July 12, 2017, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) proposed a change to the age requirement for drivers of paratransit vehicles, in order to more closely match current guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and reduce operational and hiring challenges for ambulance and paratransit companies across the state.
The Proposed Rulemaking Order was approved 5-0 by the Commission on July 12, allowing paratransit vehicles to be operated by trained and certified ambulance drivers who are 18 years or older – initiating a written comment period and review by relevant agencies.
Currently, PUC regulations for paratransit services require drivers to be at least 21 years old, while DOH rules allow drivers 18 years or older to operate ambulances if they have proper training and certification. In proposing the change in PUC regulations, the Commissioners noted that many of the state’s ambulance companies also provide paratransit services, and the differences in age requirements currently prevent some trained ambulance drivers from being able to operate paratransit vehicles – complicating operations for those organizations.
The proposed change established the following conditions for paratransit drivers who are under the age of 21:
- Drivers 18 years or older must be certified as an Emergency Medical Service Vehicle Operator (EMSVO) by the DOH.
- Drivers must carry their DOH-issued EMSVO certification on board, while operating a paratransit vehicle.
- Paratransit carriers must comply with all DOH regulations and maintain records for a period of four years to prove each person’s EMSVO certification.
- These records must be available for inspection by Commission Staff, upon request.
- Paratransit carriers must notify the PUC of any accident involving a paratransit driver who is under 21 years of age, regardless of the severity of the accident.
The Proposed Rulemaking Order will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and written comments should be submitted within 30 days of that publication. All comments must reference Docket No. L-2017-2600599.