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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Numbers needed to justify Las Vegas EMS transport changes

Measuring factors like response times and resuscitation rates should show the research behind the numbers in any major proposal

By Arthur Hsieh

I have to shake my head after reading the chief’s comments in this article about the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue increasing its share of emergency transportation services in the city

Insinuating that EMS providers working in one color ambulance are somehow less capable of handling medical emergencies than those driving another color ambulance is short-sighted, and certainly won’t win any votes in a congeniality contest.

There are changes afoot in the system, perhaps rightly so. Sending two transport units to scene calls is redundant, and not very cost effective. If the argument is centered around money, it would seem obvious that there are 4 million reasons why transport should be done by the private contractor. But clearly, it’s not that simple. It never is.

What’s not mentioned is any data or research behind the numbers. How is system efficiency and efficacy being measured? What about response times, the number of lawsuits, resuscitation rates, customer-satisfaction surveys, and dollars spent per mile of transport or time on task?

I’m sure readers could come up with many more parameters. But don’t denigrate the capabilities of one EMS provider simply because they work for the ‘other side.’ I assume that the public agency hires its new employees from within the ranks of the private organization. That would seem contradictory.

If this change in tactics is about preserving jobs, then justify it. Demonstrate the effectiveness that an EMS organization can provide when it’s all under one roof. There are many departments — both public and private — that do show that, and keep their systems running successfully. In this case, the political process has begun, and rough waters lie ahead. Let’s hope that the community comes out the winner.

By the way, insulting nurses and physicians probably didn’t help either. 

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
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
J.t. Cantrell J.t. Cantrell Friday, March 07, 2014 5:31:21 AM More than one operator has looked at the transfer service and wanted it until he got it. I wish the Chief luck because I believe he will need it. Transfers can be more demanding than emergency work. Sometimes and you will have more calls than units. Unless he plans to make a transfer division I don't believe he will have what he needs. The mindset of every unit doing everything is a myth. It will not work in the long run. You are right about the numbers being needed.

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