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Home > Topics > Ambulances / Emergency Vehicles
November 13, 2012
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

C'mon DC: Can't you do better for your community?

Redeploying ambulances is but a small token gesture

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: Art Hsieh takes a look at DC's plan to alter paramedic staffing levels

The issues plaguing DC Fire-Rescue are not new. I remember back in the early 2000s the difficulty they faced in recruiting and retaining qualified EMS providers to its ranks.

The department has had many grand plans since then to revise and transform the EMS system of the Nation's capital.

Instead it continues to be plagued by system failures, some which have been spectacular (recall David Rosenbaum anyone?). Band-aid fixes are not going to serve the DC citizenry very well.

Let's not point fingers here. Agreed, it's the simplest thing to do — shift blame to another party. But it won't fix anything.

What will is a major, dispassionate, top to bottom look at the system, from its funding source, to its administration, to the line workers, and ultimately the mission of the department.

I do agree with the Chief — it's time for change. Certainly the previous history of the department's inability to provide consistent quality service validates that.

Redeploying ambulances is but a small token gesture — it won't move enough ALS personnel to adequately staff the other shifts. And clearly, without a major change in hiring practices, this too is doomed to fail.

Old cities, old government infrastructure, old mindsets — c'mon DC and Detroit. Can't you do better for your community?

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief 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 Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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