Report: Increasing EMS staff in Calif. rural, suburban areas

Hiring more paramedics to staff engines in rural and suburban areas is one of two recommendations made by jurors following an investigation into emergency medical services provided by the county


Monica Vaughan
The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Three of the 16 county-funded Cal Fire engines that serve rural and suburban areas are staffed by paramedics able to provide pre-hospital medical care in response to priority emergency calls, according to a Grand Jury report submitted in May.

That’s something that needs to change, the report says.

The group also concluded that the county is well-served through it’s contracts with Cal Fire and San Luis Ambulance Service. (Photo/ San Luis Ambulance Inc.)
The group also concluded that the county is well-served through it’s contracts with Cal Fire and San Luis Ambulance Service. (Photo/ San Luis Ambulance Inc.)

Hiring more paramedics to staff engines in rural and suburban areas is one of two recommendations made by jurors following an investigation into emergency medical services provided by the county.

The investigation was not the result of an official complaint, rather jurors chose to look into paramedics and emergency medical technician services because “it is those services that are called upon every day of the year and which the citizenry is likely to experience.”

The report includes a county map that shows emergency response times in rural and suburban areas of the county, those not served by urban fire departments.

They’re often longer than 20 minutes.

Even so, the group concluded that the county is well-served through it’s contracts with Cal Fire and San Luis Ambulance Service, stating that “the county is providing a level of service commensurate with the needs of the population.”

Jurors did see room for improvement.

The 13 engines across the county that are not staffed by paramedics are staffed by emergency medical technicians, who are trained and qualified responders able to provide basic life support.

But they are only able to provide a limited range of medical services and are currently limited by policy in their ability to protect a patient’s airway during an emergency.

Those staffed by paramedics are based at the Los Osos, Nipomo and Mesa stations and can provide more thorough services, including the ability to perform endotracheal intubation, which is important because “in an emergency, protecting a patient’s airway is of primary importance,” the report says.

Jurors recommend “additional paramedics should be provided on county-funded engines and added to the next contract.”

They also recommend that the county follow the lead of most other California counties and approve the use of a device that can protect the airway, like endotracheal intubation, but don’t require formal certification so it can be used by EMTs. That should be accomplished by January 2020, the report says.

While recommendations by a Grand Jury are not legally binding, several agencies are required to respond. In this case, the county Board of Supervisors, Public Health Emergency Medical Services Division and the Fire Chief shall respond by July 23.

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©2019 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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