AB 798 Allows Federally Recognized Tribes to Operate Emergency Ambulances | smbmi

AB 798 Allows Federally Recognized Tribes to Operate Emergency Ambulances

AB 798 Allows Federally Recognized Tribes to Operate Emergency Ambulances

October 26, 2021 • 3 min read

The passage of AB 798 paves the way for federally recognized California Tribes to have authority over additional lifesaving rights.

The bill was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Sept. 24, 2021, affirming tribal sovereignty in the field of safety and wellness; tribes in California will be able to own and operate their own ambulances and supplement services to their tribal citizens and neighboring communities.

AB 798 was sponsored by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and carried by Assembly member James Ramos. The bill authorized tribes the lifesaving rights that were afforded by other governments, while also granting the opportunity for tribes to provide services to the community at large through mutual aid agreements with tribal governments.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it became glaringly evident that tribes needed their own services as emergency response to reservations were diminished due to the shortage of paramedic workers, high-call volume and limited ambulances available. With AB 798 written into law, tribes can be the first to respond to their tribal community and neighboring residents with their own ambulances.

“Our challenges licensing an ambulance on the Reservation are not isolated to San Manuel but are universally faced by tribes across the state,” Tribal Citizen Ken Ramirez of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians said.

By unanimous vote, the California Legislature affirmed that tribes were more than capable as first responders and emergency services partners to ensure the calls for medical aid and transports were met to the gold standard.

According to the American Hearth Association, every minute saved in providing lifesaving support to someone experiencing a cardiac event, increases the survival rate up to 10%.

“By working government-to-government with the state on this legislation, we help our brother and sister tribes save lives today,” Tribal Citizen Ramirez said. “And well into the future as they grow and develop their emergency services.”

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