What county officials could learn from an EMS ride along

When it comes to the frustrating health care merry-go-round of frequent 911 callers, it’s unfortunate that the county officials just don’t get it

Now, this is a switch: Rather than the EMS agency not wanting to enhance their level of service, community leaders are balking at getting that help. Where is this coming from?

There is a tremendous gap that currently exists in social and chronic health services. While most patients of some means are able to maintain their conditions once they leave a physician office or hospital, there are substantial populations that cannot do so for one reason or another.

EMS sees them as repeat callers — the CHF patient who goes back to the hospital two weeks after discharge; diabetics who become hypoglycemic monthly; addicts who relapse with their alcohol or drug dependencies. We provide care, and take them to an emergency department, where they are seen for a few hours, possibly admitted for a few days, and then discharged back into the same cycle.

Many of us have been party to this frustrating health care merry-go-round for a long time. It’s a relief to see that efforts are underway to get off the carousel, by providing after-care checks, performing preventive activities, and transporting patients to facilities other than expensive and ineffective emergency departments for that specific complaint. 

It’s unfortunate that the county officials don’t get that. The comment made by one commissioner that some people "might quit calling because they might have heard of someone who called 911 and ended up in a nursing home,” harkens back to days of ambulance drivers, hearses and horse-drawn buggies. Even in Ohio, times have progressed and patients do have autonomous rights.

Maybe the department could invite the commissioners to ride along with a unit, so they could get a first-hand look at the issues that face today’s EMS providers. 

About the author

Art Hsieh, MA, NRP teaches in Northern California at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. An EMS provider since 1982, Art has served as a line medic, supervisor 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 writer, author of "EMT Exam for Dummies," has presented at conferences nationwide and continues to provide direct patient care regularly. Art is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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