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Home > Topics > Ambulances / Emergency Vehicles
January 06, 2011
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Providing continuous service with less money

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: The Memphis Fire Department is considering using SUVs to respond to some emergency calls, but opponents say the move could endanger the public. Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh says change is not easy for people to accept, but what's the alternative?

Despite the optimistic views of a few pundits, it still seems like a horrible time for our general economy. Government agencies continue to bear the brunt of the financial fallout, and will continue to do so for years after private industry bounces back.

This article points to creative ways EMS departments are trying to provide continuous service with less money available to do so.

It certainly represents a change, and change is not easy for many folks. There are few alternatives — don't provide service at all? Only respond on a percentage of calls?

And while it is important to maintain adequate staffing for a fire suppression response, this plan would seem a viable option to maintain that level if the quick response vehicle responds to a fire call, from a medical one, while the engine responds from the station.

Many parts of the country do that now — one person responds to the station to drive the engine, while others respond directly to the scene in private vehicles.

It's not good, nor is it bad, but it is how it's done because those are all the resources that are available in that community.

While the article is interesting in its own right, the comments left by viewers at the news site are even more interesting, lively even.

It's not too hard to see how passionate the energy is surrounding this issue. For the most part it's civil, but folks have really staked out territory and arguing at times from weak positions.

Like the song goes, "What's love got to do with it?" when it deals with service ability. You can't ignore simple facts, and emotionally inflammatory rhetoric isn't helpful.

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 Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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