EMSA Director’s Web Page

Howard Backer, MD, MPH, FACEP


Howard Backer, MD, MPH, FACEP, is the Director of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) where he leads the department in establishing and enforcing standards for EMS personnel, coordinating with local EMS systems, overseeing the development of statewide care systems, and preparing for and responding to disasters.

Dr. Backer previously served for ten years at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) where he held a variety of assignments including as Chief of the Immunization Branch and as Interim Director and Interim State Health Officer.

From 2008 to 2011, Backer was Associate Secretary for Emergency Preparedness at the California Health and Human Services Agency where he worked closely with EMSA, CDPH, the Department of Social Services and other CHHS departments on plans to coordinate public health and medical disaster response as well as mass care and shelter issues. In that capacity, he served as consultant to the Ukrainian Ministry of Emergencies and was part of a delegation to Chile following the devastating 2010 earthquake there. He will continue to coordinate the development of Emergency Function 8 (Public Health and Medical) for the California State Emergency Plan.

Prior to government service, Dr. Backer practiced emergency medicine full-time for 25 years in rural, urban, and suburban settings. He received a Doctor of Medicine form the University of California at San Francisco, a Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan, and is board certified in Emergency Medicine, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health. He continues to work clinical hours in Urgent Care at the UC Berkeley Student Health Center.

Dr. Backer lives in Piedmont, with his wife, who is a registered nurse, and one of three daughters. In his off time, he likes to spend time in the Sierra Nevada Mountains or do international travel to remote areas.

Under statute, the Director of Emergency Medical Services Authority is required to be a physician with experience in emergency medicine.

Contact Dr. Backer via email or call (916) 322-4336.

Email EMSA’s paramedic licensing department.

For questions about EMT training or certification, contact your local EMS agency.