Memo: Creative EMS cost-cutting, from weaponized mold to ambo ads
On these days of dwindling budgets, it is important for us to provide our life-saving service at the least cost possible
By Juan Botino
Recently Officials at Pinellas County EMS Systems released a memo to its staff, directing them to find ways to save costs. We were able to find a copy of the memo.
All EMS personnel:
The Board of County Commissioners has asked all department heads to try and cut expenditures. In order to fulfill their wishes, we will be implementing the following cost-cutting measures:
- Linens: All linen will be dyed red. This will allow us to reuse linen that has been contaminated with blood. In addition, we will have a monthly contest. The crew that transports the most patients on one set of linen will win a free biscuit from Hardee's. Projected savings: $2,000 yearly
- Oxygen: Use sparingly. Attendants can cut oxygen use by sitting at the patient's head and blowing into the tubing. By alternating between oxygen and attendant's air, we can cut oxygen use by 50%. Projected savings: $2,500 yearly
- Fuel: Do not exceed 45 m.p.h. When possible, get behind a semi to cut wind resistance. Do not use the a.c. Shut off engine at scene and when going downhill. You will be able to coast a long distance before engaging the engine. Remove heavy equipment from ambulances, such as thumpers, defibrillators, etc., whenever possible. Projected savings: $3,000 yearly
- Station: During the winter, 55 gallon drums will be placed in the ambulance bay. This will be used for heat. You can use the orange copy of your run reports and garbage generated on your shift for fuel. It is also suggested that crew members sleep together for warmth. If showers must be taken, then try and shower with your partner. Food can be cooked in the same 55 gallon drums used for heat, and on the engine block of the ambulance after a run.
Each shift will be assigned 1 roll of toilet tissue, 1 roll of paper towels, and one plastic garbage bag per month. During the summer, you will be assigned a paper fan donated by the local funeral home. You will be allowed to wear skimpy clothes at the station. The television will be replaced by a coin operated model. There will be a pay phone installed in the lobby area. We will begin to charge all employees for parking. Coin operated lockers will also be available. Projected savings: $5,000 yearly
- Uniforms: Employees must rent their uniforms from us. In the future, we will hire employees that are the same size, in order to stock as few uniforms as possible. Employees are responsible for washing the uniforms. A coin-operated washer and dryer will be installed on the premises. Projected savings: $3,000 yearly
- Supplies: All syringes and IV needles will be sterilized by boiling. Gloves will be turned inside-out and reused. Bandages, such as 4x4s can be washed and dried in our coin operated washer and dryer. We will only carry the minimum of drugs and medications. Whenever possible, administer a placebo. Projected savings: $4,000 yearly
- Ambulances: Ambulances will be washed only in the rain. Projected savings: $500 yearly
- Income Generating Opportunities: In order to generate additional income, the following will be instituted:
- Advertising space will be sold inside and outside the ambulance. Prospective clients will be attorneys, doctors, hospitals, funeral homes, political candidates, etc.
- Frequent Patient Program: By signing up, a patient will accrue free ambulance miles to the destination of their choice. The more a patient uses us, the more free mileage he or she accrues. These miles can only be used if the patient's account is paid up. Not valid on holidays, other restrictions apply.
- Meals and beverages, as well as videos, will be available to the patients at extra charge. Headphones also will be available. Patients will be able to have their picture taken with the EMS crew.
- All requests for an ambulance will come through our new 1-900 phone line. The call will cost the caller $5.95 the first minute, with $2.95 each additional minute. Crews are encouraged to keep the caller on the line until the ambulance arrives.
- We will be selling E.M.T. Cookies door-to-door twice a year, as well as establishing "The Homeless E.M.T. Foundation". The public will be asked to adopt an EMT or paramedic for the low cost of less than one cup of coffee a day.
- We will sell mold to the federal government (organically grown in our own station) for use in biological weapons.
On these days of dwindling budgets, and government priorities being what they are, it is important for us to provide our life-saving service at the least cost possible. Thank you for your cooperation.
About the author
Juan Botino is the Director of Madison County (Fla.) EMS and has been in EMS since 1972.