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Home > Columnists > Arthur Hsieh
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Why DC's leadership is short-sighted

DC citizens deserve the same level of care as the folks who live in surrounding communities

By 9-1-1 Magazine

Editor's note: A controversial redeployment plan that would leave D.C. ambulances staffed with no paramedics during the overnight hours will not take effect until next year at the earliest, as stakeholders consider the benefits of a proposal that national authorities are calling everything from "innovative" to "unconscionable."

All of the publicity about the nation's capital's controversial plan to reduce ALS coverage at night is indicative of the complex nature of system status management.

As the article points out, there are numerous factors beyond just volume to look at when making critical decisions about staffing levels.

One could assume that they were all taken into account…of course, most of us know what that can mean sometimes though.

One year's worth of data may also not be enough, especially for a system that, according to the department spokesperson, is "growing at a record pace."

It would seem reasonable that the department would look at multiple years of run data, integrated with census data, in order to project any potential changes in both current and future volume.

Changes this significant require fairly sophisticated statistical analysis and testing before implementation. It would be well worth the investment of appropriately trained and equipped personnel to make such analysis.

Washington DC citizens deserve the same level of care as the folks who live in surrounding communities.

The sense of provincialism expressed by the department's leadership is short-sighted.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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