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

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

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 and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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