The Oregon Health Authority, Emergency Medical Services Program (OHA-EMS) is gearing up for the 2013 license renewal period. A common topic of discussion for the Professional Standards Unit is criminal records checks. Specifically:
- Why are criminal records or background checks required?
- Why do some licensees have to submit new fingerprints every time they apply for a license?
These are both very good questions.
In 2009 OHA-EMS began requiring a criminal records check on every renewal license in an effort to enhance the abilities of OHA-EMS to safeguard the public. OHA-EMS had been performing criminal records checks on all initial license applications since July 2001, but had never performed criminal records on individuals who had received their license prior to that practice. Although licensees are required to report felony arrests, and any misdemeanor convictions within 10 days to the Oregon Health Authority, this step is sometimes overlooked. One way for OHA-EMS to assure the public that Oregon’s emergency medical service providers are trustworthy is by performing criminal records checks to identify those who have failed to report criminal events.
Criminal records checks are performed in one of two ways. If the licensee is a resident of Oregon and has not been out of the state for more than 60 consecutive days since last licensed, OHA-EMS performs an Oregon State criminal records check through Oregon State Police (OSP), Law Enforcement Data System. This does not require submission of fingerprints. Licensees with an out-of-state address or who have been out of the state for 60 or more consecutive days since last licensed are subject to a fingerprint-based criminal records check in order to obtain a national FBI record for review by OHA-EMS.
Another question licensees ask is “why do I have to submit new fingerprints every time I apply for renewal?” Federal rules require fingerprints be destroyed after successful submission for criminal background check. Contrary to common belief, those fingerprints or reports are not maintained on file for future use, and the results are non-transferable. Due to these federal regulations, OHA-EMS is prohibited from sharing fingerprint-based criminal records results with any other agency, and other agencies cannot share their results with OHA-EMS. For some licensees this means multiple fingerprint-based background checks are performed by multiple agencies.
There are two ways to submit fingerprints to OHA-EMS. The first is to obtain a traditional FBI fingerprint card and send it to OHA-EMS with your application for renewal; the second and preferred method is done by livescan. Fingerprints are taken via a digital scanner and sent directly to OSP/FBI for processing and the results are returned electronically to OHA-EMS.
The current fee for processing fingerprints is $44.50 and represents the combined fees charged by the FBI and OSP to OHA-EMS. OHA-EMS does not profit from background checks.
Livescan fingerprinting can be done at the OHA-EMS office for a charge of $20. For more information on fingerprint-based background checks and livescan information, please visit the OHA-EMS website at healthoregon.org/ems. To make a fingerprinting appointments with OHA-EMS, please call 971-673-0520.
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