Seldom are Californians faced with a decision at the ballot box that can so directly impact their own safety and well-being. Prop 11 on the November 6 ballot is the exception and will ensure that 9-1-1 medical care will not be delayed when it’s needed most.

Over the last 50 years, private EMTs and paramedics have been paid to be reachable during their work breaks. This is the exact same way that other essential public safety personnel operate, like police officers, firefighters and public EMTs and paramedics. When you call 9-1-1 during an emergency, they are at the ready to respond.

However, there is now a threat to this practice and it puts public safety at risk. A 2016 California Supreme Court decision (Augustus v. ABM Security Services) found that private security guards could no longer be reachable during their rest breaks. If this decision is applied to the private ambulance industry (it wouldn’t impact public EMTs or paramedics), it would mean that EMTs and paramedics must turn off all phones, radios and pagers during their work breaks and be completely unreachable – even in the case of a life-threatening emergency. The dispatcher would not be able to reach the ambulance crew, and they would have to send the next closest ambulance, potentially putting lives at risk.

Private EMTs and paramedics are essential to the state’s emergency medical response (EMS) system as they respond to 75% of the California’s 9-1-1 emergency calls. In situations like a heart attack, stroke and drug overdose, minutes often mean the difference between life and death. In fact, the American Heart Association says that for every minute that passes without CPR or a defibrillator, the chances of survival decrease by 7-10%.

Patients, especially those in life-threatening emergencies, can’t afford to wait. And because legislation to resolve this issue stalled in Sacramento last summer, the EMS industry proposed Prop 11 to ensure 9-1-1 medical care isn’t delayed or prevented from responding when you call for help.

Prop 11 will maintain the status quo by continuing the 50-year practice of paying private EMTs and paramedics to remain on-call during their breaks. The measure also requires ambulance providers to maintain high enough staffing levels to ensure breaks can be taken and continues the requirement that if a break is missed and not rescheduled, employees must receive an extra hour of pay.

In addition, Prop 11 requires that all emergency ambulance operators provide paid annual training that meets FEMA standards for responding to natural disasters and active shooter incidents. In times of disaster, all hands are on deck. It is important that every EMT and paramedic in California is prepared to respond and answer our most desperate calls for help.

Prop 11 will also ensure EMTs and paramedics receive annual wellness training and mental health benefits. Serving as a first responder is a noble calling that requires courage and resilience. Prop 11 provides these brave men and women with the tools they need to cope with inevitable on-the-job stress.

This election, a vote for Prop 11 is a vote for public safety and to ensure that when you or your loved one has a medical emergency, an ambulance will not be delayed. Join the 20 newspapers across the state that are supporting Prop 11, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union-Tribune and The Mercury News. Vote YES on Prop 11 – it’s commonsense.

For more information on Prop 11, visit