Finding lessons in an EMS crisis
Constructive criticism is less sexy, but more meaningful
By Art Hsieh
Stories like this TV report about an ambulance service crisis simply don't help resolve an EMS system's problems. When "doom and gloom" projections dominate the storyline, it's just a sell job and doesn't provide the information the public needs to form an educated opinion. What a missed opportunity to find solutions!
Scare tactics aside, let's look at the issues that this news story brings up. The hospital appears to be struggling with maintaining its ability to provide enough units during the slowest demand period. Is it better to keep running the overnight service at an assumed loss, or reduce costs to preserve the service overall? What are the mutual aid agreements in existence currently?
How would revamping the EMS to provide expanded role services affect the system? Could additional cost reductions for in-hospital services help offset the cost of the ambulance service?
How about staffing model changes? There's no mention of a dual-medic, 1 and 1, or dual EMT staffing patterns.
Training the police force to provide first aid – good idea! That’s probably one that should be implemented regardless of what is happening with the ambulance service; studies have shown that law enforcement officers who use AEDs can make a difference in a patient’s outcome.
I understand that maybe analysis like this is not what sells stories. But I also think the general public is smart enough to understand the details and could help support its EMS system if we all do a better job of communicating.