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Bill requiring Utah ambulance driving course heads to Senate

Published February 27, 2013 1:10 pm

HB230 • Two fatal ambulance accidents last July spurred action
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

They were buckled in, had the car air conditioning going and the radio humming in the background as Ogden resident Richard Noorda prepared to take his 88-year-old mother, Arline Logan, to a doctor's appointment last July.

The two never made it through the intersection at Sunset Lane and U.S. 89. A westbound ambulance, lights and siren on as it transported a critically injured patient to a nearby hospital, struck the left front of Noorda's car, causing it to careen 45 yards north on U.S. 89. The emergency vehicle also hit two other cars before coming to a stop.

"My mother was killed outright," Noorda said as he spoke in support of HB230 Wednesday morning. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, is in answer to the accident that took Logan's life as well as a fatal ambulance crash in Hurricane just a few weeks later.

Froerer said his bill will fill a gap in state law by requiring formalized training for drivers of emergency medical vehicles.

"You might be surprised to know that the current statute addresses the vehicle itself and how that is to be maintained," Froerer told members of the Senate Health and Human Services committee, "but it has no reference to any training for these emergency medical vehicle operators."

For the past few months, a task force has worked to define the necessary training, Froerer said, and the Department of Health will be tasked with approval and oversight of that certification process. If HB230 passes, every ambulance driver will need to provide proof of successful completion of such a course beginning Jan. 31, 2014.

The ambulance operator in Noorda's accident was recently charged with negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor.

"We must also recognize the tragedy of drivers that are now facing [these] charges," Froerer said of those emergency response personnel who have to live with an action that caused a death, and also end up with a criminal record.

For Noorda, passage of HB230 would mean that his mother "did not die in vain."

"That training should help protect not just the everyday citizen," Noorda said, "but also the guys that are behind the wheel and the people that are riding with them."

Financial costs of such certification have yet to be determined. HB230 unanimously passed the House last Friday, and cleared the Senate committee Wednesday with 4-0 approval. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

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