Archive | Staffing and Service

Long Beach Fire Department considers single paramedic response system

Posted on 09 August 2012 by wyoskibum

LONG BEACH, CA – As the Long Beach Fire Department struggles to find fat to trim after years of reductions, officials are considering putting a single paramedic on each responding vehicle instead of running two-paramedic teams.

Fire command staff and city officials are presenting the switch as a way to shorten response times by requiring fewer paramedics in the system, cutting more than $1 million in spending as required in the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget.

The response-time improvement would occur by placing more paramedic units in the field, going from two paramedics on eight ambulances to one paramedic and one emergency medical technician on 11 units, according to LBFD Chief Mike DuRee.

Under the proposal, each of the 16 fire engines included in next year’s budget would have a paramedic, instead of nine engines now.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a stubbed toe or chest pain, every call will have a paramedic responding,” DuRee said.

The change, which must get approval from the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, is being criticized by the firefighters union.

“We’re all for looking for innovative ways to deliver EMS, but the model that’s being discussed compromises patient care,” said Rex Pritchard, president of Long Beach Firefighters Local 372.

Currently, three of Long Beach’s regular ambulances are staffed by two EMTs, who are trained in basic life support, such as CPR. A paramedic has advanced life support

training and can administer medications and perform other procedures, such as defibrillation, that EMTs cannot.

Opponents of a “one-to-one” model – with one paramedic and one EMT – say two paramedics back up each other and can execute interconnected procedures, such as intubating a patient while beginning intravenous therapy, faster than a single paramedic.

A trial period

The two-paramedic system has become a minority in California, in part due to budget pressures, with only Los Angeles, Orange and Contra Costa counties using the model, according to officials.

The process to approve an EMS model shift in Long Beach could take 10 months or longer.

Before then, a written plan would be vetted by the county’s EMS Commission and discussed in public meetings, according to Cathy Chidester, director of the Los Angeles County EMS Agency.

If approved, the LBFD would likely have to participate in a two-year trial period, she said.

“We would have the ability to discontinue it at any time if we felt like there was any detriment to patient care,” said Chidester.

Response times

The National Fire Protection Association promotes standards that call for the first unit, with at least one paramedic, to get to the scene of an advanced life support call within a total time of eight minutes.

For basic life support calls, the first unit with at least one EMT should arrive within six minutes, the NFPA says.

In Long Beach, where almost 84 percent of the Fire Department’s calls are medical incidents, a paramedic arrived at an advanced life support call site in an average six minutes and 26 seconds in 2011, according to LBFD data.

An EMT arrived at a basic life support call scene, on average, in six minutes and 21 seconds.

DuRee estimated expanding the number of paramedic units in Long Beach could lower response times on medical incidents by as much as 30 to 60 seconds.

As fire department purse strings across the country are tightened, many communities have successfully moved to a one-to-one staffing model to save money, said Ken Willette, division manager of Public Fire Protection with the NFPA.

Others still rely on the traditional, two-paramedic style, he added.

“The question is, what fits the need of the local community?” Willette asked.

Next year’s Fire Department budget also calls for mothballing one of Long Beach’s 17 engine companies.

The unit targeted for reduction will be selected by early September, DuRee said.

City Council members have until Sept. 15 to approve or change next year’s budget, which closes a $17.2 million deficit.

The fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

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Paramedics: Pocatello Ambulances Are At The Breaking Point

Posted on 29 May 2012 by wyoskibum

POCATELLO, Idaho — Paramedics in Pocatello say they are overwhelmed trying to keep up with an ever increasing amount of emergencies.

“We’ve reached the breaking point where we can’t do anymore with the efficiency. It’s coming to the point where we can’t provide the kind of service we would like with the amount of resources we have,” Paramedic Greg White said.

The emergency calls barely gives ambulance crews a chance to breathe, let alone train.

“It used to be that we would try to plan our training and stuff like that but we just haven’t had the chance to do the training we would like because of the amount of calls that we’re going on,” White said.

And that inability to fully train for worst case scenarios, has those in charge of the department worried.

Weekly, emergency calls are getting stacked up.

Simply put, some times more people are calling 911 for emergency help then there are ambulance crews to respond. And when that happens, someone in need, simply has to wait.

“We are strapped with resources. Our call value continues to climb and our personnel are doing their absolute best to get to every call that we happen to have, but it’s getting to the point where we can’t,” Pocatello Fire Chief Mike Irwin said.

This problem should see some major relief in October, when a new ambulance crew can get hired due to a levy passed by Bannock County voters last year.

But Irwin said that won’t completely solve the problem. If emergency calls keep increasing at the same rate, he said Bannock County will be in the same trouble again soon.

“It appears that if we continue with the current trends that we’re seeing probably within a year or year and a half we’ll be somewhat back in the same situation again of not having enough resources out there to run the call volumes that we’re going to experience,” Irwin said.

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Lack of Volunteers Causes Ambulance Service to Close

Posted on 07 May 2012 by wyoskibum

Bristol, N.Y.— Bristol Volunteer Ambulance has done what it can to attract more members. They’ve tried holding open houses, clambakes and recruiting through word-of-mouth.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” says Bob Frost, the captain of the Bristol Rescue Squad. “If someone new comes into the area, we fill them in on it.”

In its heyday, the Bristol Fire Department had at least a dozen volunteer EMTs for its ambulance service. Now that number has dwindled down to six and it has become difficult to sufficiently respond to medical calls.

David Parsons, a Bristol town board member, says it’s a sign of the times.

Both men and women are now working full-time jobs and many people can’t afford to volunteer their time.

Also, the requirements to become a certified EMT have become tougher.

According to Frost, people training to become EMTs now have to have 200 hours of training opposed to 150 when he trained five years ago. The requirements are the same whether you are a paid or volunteer EMT. The 200 training hours does not include the firefighting training hours many EMTs also have to take.

For all these reasons combined, the Bristol Town Board and Bristol Fire Department started discussing ways to provide better service two years ago.

Finger Lakes Ambulance has already been helping Bristol by responding to its daytime medical calls. Earlier this year, Finger Lakes Ambulance responded to all medical calls alongside Bristol Ambulance. Starting June 1, Finger Lakes Ambulance will start working alone.

The existing volunteer EMTs will now work as certified first responders. They will head to medical calls from their homes and will have a bag with medical supplies with them. A Finger Lakes Ambulance will meet them at the scene.

“There are more of us scattered throughout the district,” says Frost. “When a call does come in, someone that lives closer to you will come.  You’ll see a medic walking through the door a lot faster and start treatment and patient care.”

Bristol Fire Chief Eric Dey says Finger Lakes Ambulance’s response times were just as good, if not better, than Bristol’s. Time is saved because, unlike Bristol volunteers who have to go the firehouse for their gear and the truck, Finger Lakes EMTs are already out in their ambulances.

But not everyone is convinced the new system will work out better.

Bristol Deputy Supervisor Alden Favro says he’s concerned about the added costs for his residents.

When you’re transported to the hospital in a town ambulance, the transportation is free. However, Finger Lakes Ambulance is a paid service and the patient will get billed for transportation to the hospital.

“A lot of people aren’t going to be able to afford the paid ambulance service,” Favro says. “I anticipate that some of the older people that don’t have a lot of money, like retired people will hesitate to call the ambulance knowing that they will be billed for it.”

Frost says many insurance providers pay for ambulance service and ensures using Finger Lakes Ambulance is the best way to remedy the shortage of volunteers.

“We’ll still be able to give the people of Bristol better service,” he says. “They’ll see someone a lot faster and there will be benefits all the way around.”

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EMS wants 1 less paramedic per truck

Posted on 09 February 2012 by wyoskibum

AUSTIN,TX – Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services leaders hope the Austin City Council will consider a proposal to require just one certified paramedic onboard each of their responding units, instead of the two that are now required.

The proposal would allow the second medical responder to just be EMT-Basic certified, meaning they would have about one-tenth the training of a certified paramedic.

“It seems a little bit counter-intuitive when you’re staffing with one less paramedic. It seems like a reduction. But, it’s not.” said Ernesto Rodriguez, Chief for Austin/Travis County EMS. “And one of the things we’ve learned with paramedics, is more is not better. And in fact, having a division of labor so to speak, so that your paramedics focus on the most critical patients, and then your basic  providers focus on those patients that don’t need those critical interventions. So, it’s better in the long run.”

Currently, the two paramedics that are in each truck rotate their skills on each patient they serve. EMS explained that by having just one highly skilled paramedic, they would be performing more life-saving techniques and therefore gaining more critical skills.

As Medical Director Paul Hinchey tried to explain, “If you go get a surgery, you want to have a surgeon who does say a gall bladder surgery say 10 times a week rather than 10 times a year. The more you do a procedure, the better you are at it. The lower the complication rate.”

The City of Austin explored those changes a few years ago, and admitted it could probably save money in the long run. This time, EMS says that cost-cutting is not the approach, and tell us the savings would be minimal at best.

The change would also not affect any current jobs.

“This is going to be done through natural attrition. We’re comfortable taking three to five years to make
this change happen in order to preserve as many paramedics as we can,” Rodriguez said.

There are currently 48 paramedic vacancies, and EMS officials admit they’re having trouble finding those with the right set of skills.

“There is a shortage of paramedics nationwide,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve had three hiring processes and only have been able to recruit three paramedics in three entire process. It’s getting very difficult right now.”

With the newest proposal, the organization hopes it will open up a larger pool of candidates.

“We want compassionate, critical-thinking, good character to come into our organization regardless of their certification. So we want to be able to pick the very best across all the certification levels, because that builds the future of our organization,” Hinchey said.

The Austin City Council may vote on the proposal the middle of February. If it passes, changes could begin to happen by March or April of this year.

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Boulder signs five-year ambulance contract with American Medical Response

Posted on 21 August 2011 by wyoskibum

иконографияikoniBOULDER, CO – The city of Boulder will enter into a five-year ambulance contract with American Medical Response, ending a 12-year run with Pridemark/Rural Metro.

The contract, announced Friday, goes into effect Jan. 1.

Both AMR and Pridemark submitted proposals in June after the city announced that it was putting its ambulance service out for bids.

“First, I want to say that Pridemark has been doing a good job for us,” said Boulder Fire Chief Larry Donner. “But periodically we like to go out for bids to see what is out there. AMR offered an equal service that ultimately will cost the patients less money.”

Since 1999, the city participated in a countywide contract with Pridemark for emergency medical services. Under that contract, ambulances in the city also served more rural areas of Boulder County. With several other local municipalities opting out of the contract, Donner said, the city of Boulder felt it was time to look into getting an exclusive contract.

“The primary benefit is that it gives us more direct control over the services provided to our community,” he said. “It allows us to serve and provide city residents without subsidizing services to lesser populated areas of the county.”

AMR, which will also enter into a contract with Boulder County in 2012 and already serves Longmont, had previously served the city of Boulder before Pridemark.

“We’re very excited,” said Tracy Mullins, AMR operations chief for the Denver and Boulder region. “We’ve been up there for 20-plus years, we put in a fair bid and we’re glad the city chose it. We’re excited to get a system put together.”

Under the terms of the contract, a minimum of four ambulances will be in the city at all times while maintaining a seven-minute response time to 90 percent of all medical emergencies. The contract also includes ongoing emergency medical training for city firefighters.

The city estimates that the average middle-aged man with chest pains will save about $300 under the American Medical Response proposal.

AMR will also have ambulance bases within the city, which officials said should reduce fuel costs. Pridemark stations ambulances on the street, which means the vehicles must remain idling in winter and summer to maintain conditions in the ambulance.

The contract also requires AMR to submit monthly performance reports to the city, which Donner said will allow officials to ensure residents are being properly taken care of.

“That allows us to look at response times to make sure ambulances are arriving in a timely fashion,” he said. “If not, we can level fines for delayed response, or if the service doesn’t meet our standards we can look for new proposals. But I don’t think that will be the case.”

Pridemark will remain the ambulance service provider until the end of the year.

“It’s been a good run,” said Courtney Morehouse, marketing director for Pridemark. “Pridemark has been here a long time working with local agencies and serving residents. I think it’s something to be proud of.”

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MURRIETA: Fire chief wants city to provide ambulance service

Posted on 17 August 2011 by wyoskibum

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA – ?A call by Riverside County for cities to weigh in on a debate regarding ambulance services has revived a desire by the Murrieta Fire Department to provide that service.

Fire Chief Matt Shobert and City Manager Rick Dudley have requested that the county consider allowing the city’s Fire Department to provide the services that now are being provided by American Medical Response. For more than a decade, the for-profit company has held an exclusive contract for providing ambulance services to more than 95 percent of the county.

In a four-page letter dated Aug. 8 and addressed to Bruce Barton, the county’s ambulance agency director, Shobert and Dudley said Murrieta is far better equipped to handle the transport of its patients to hospitals because:

emergency response crews are local residents who can navigate the city’s streets better than AMR’s personnel;
the department’s standard response time is more than three minutes shorter than AMR’s standard response time;
and patients are more likely to survive their emergency if they are treated by one crew from the time they’re picked up to the time they’re dropped off at the hospital.
Former Fire Chief Phil Armentrout made the same request in 2003, but the county denied that request in order to maintain uniform services among all county cities.

The Murrieta City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue during Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 24601 Jefferson Ave.

“It’s not really a negative perspective toward AMR, because they do a fine job,” Shobert said in a phone interview Friday. “We’ve got five strategically placed fire departments and at each corner of the city we have a hospital. We could set up a very effective, efficient system because of the location and the size of our city, and the three hospitals at the corners.”

AMR now has ambulances stationed at Fire Stations 2 and 3, which are located on California Oaks Road and Whitewood Road, respectively.

The city does not pay for the ambulance services, rather a person who is transported by AMR is billed $1,200 to $1,500, Shobert said. But often the patient has received a bulk of the primary emergency care by a fire paramedic, and is in essence being billed by AMR for work that his or her tax dollars have already paid for.

The county pays AMR $95 million per year and has awarded the company exclusive rights to the contract since 1998. Only a few cities, such as Idyllwild, have been approved to provide their own services or rely on the county fire department for emergency transportation.

In April, however, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors decided to postpone renewing AMR’s contract until a review of its performance is complete. Among other points, supervisors are weighing whether to open the ambulance service contract up for a competitive bid. AMR’s contract will expire July 1, 2012.

The Riverside County Fire Chiefs Association also has criticized the lack of a competitive bid for the contract, and in 2008 the association published a report detailing various issues that had gone unscrutinized due to the lack of contract review. As a member of the association, Shobert said he signed his support of the report when it was published.

“They’re a profit-motivated company, so they’re very, very efficient (at keeping overhead costs at a minimum) and when we’re talking life and death, I think service should come over efficiency,” Shobert said. “This is a high-dollar contract that Riverside County is essentially signing and binding our city to. So that’s why we think that if home rule can’t take over here, then at a minimum open it up to the competitive bidding process.”

Ideally, Shobert said, the city should be allowed to provide its own services.

In the argument laid out in the letter, Shobert and Dudley said Murrieta fire crews generally arrive at an emergency within 6 1/2 minutes from the time the call goes out, while AMR ambulances typically arrive within 10 minutes.

“It’s like playing the telephone game,” Shobert said. “Most of the time we’re arriving first on scene, we’re starting IVs, initiating EKGs (heart tests), looking at their hearts and administrating drugs. When you hand off a patient, some information might not be (passed along). We could maintain a higher level of care by not having to transfer the patient.”

Additionally, the letter states, AMR’s lowered staffing levels have left some ambulances unmanned.

“Recently,” Dudley and Shobert wrote in their joint letter. “The ambulance housed at Murrieta Fire Station 2 was out of service for two consecutive days due to staffing levels. This station responds to all calls for medical in The Colony, one of the largest 55-plus communities in the region with 1,500 homes. It is unconscionable that a retirement community that large is left without adequate service due to faulty equipment, improper staff levels and inoperative vehicles.”

Shobert said it is too early to say how much it would cost the city to provide those services.

Reached Friday, Barton said he had received the city’s letter and had forwarded it to the proper officials for review.

He said that the county has been aiming to keep ambulance services consistent in order to ensure that all Riverside County residents receive the same level of care.

“If every city did their own thing, you would virtually have a different (emergency medical service) system every few offramps of the freeway,” Barton said. “We want to make sure somebody who rolls their car over in Murrieta is going to get the same kind of response and care as someone who rolls their car over on the freeway halfway between Desert Center and Blythe. Otherwise, that’s how a lawsuit comes to be.”

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Enfield EMS Supervisor Resigns

Posted on 26 April 2011 by wyoskibum

ENFIELD, CT —— A supervisor and former captain of the emergency medical services department has resigned, according to the town’s director of human resources.

Richard Clow had faced disciplinary action as a result of an investigation by the human resources department, said Steven Bielenda, human resources director. The department found that he billed for excessive and unexplained overtime, chauffeured the EMS director on personal trips with a town car and used abusive language with a subordinate, among other things, according to an April 4 letter sent to Clow by Christopher Bromson, director of public safety.

Clow was removed as captain in March, during what Bielenda termed “a department re-evaluation,” and worked as a supervisor for just over a month. He was suspended with pay for about three weeks before resigning Thursday. In his resignation letter, he wrote, “I do this with the understanding that I have no other options available to me at this time.”

The letter asserted that Clow violated the town ethics code by working for, and ordering products from, a medical needle manufacturer called Vidacare while employed by the EMS department. He also gave the EMS director rides to the airport for personal business, billing the hours and using a town car, according to the letter.

The letter further alleges that Clow billed for excessive overtime, earning approximately $31,000 in overtime pay over a period of about six months, which was paid on top of an annual salary of $67,392. If the town had not stepped in, the letter asserts, Clow’s annual income would have hit nearly $114,000. Furthermore, as Clow routinely avoided clocking in or out, there was no proof that he had actually worked the hours, according to the letter.

The letter also says Clow used abusive language with a subordinate and refused to properly instruct other supervisors in payroll duties after being asked to do so by a superior.

“We had a conversation with Clow about the charges against him and we did not agree with his version of the events,” Bielenda said.

Clow’s departure comes less than a month after EMS Director Kevin Sullivan resigned from the troubled department, which under his leadership was cited for violations by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and accused of harassment and discrimination by one of its paramedics.

In September, OSHA cited the department for 13 blood-borne pathogen violations and imposed a fine of $997. Then, in November, the department was cited again for not posting the findings of the OSHA inspection.

That same month, paramedic Abdullah Nizamani filed a complaint with the town’s human resources department, alleging that he was the victim of harassment and discrimination on the job. An investigation found that inappropriate comments had been made to and about Nizamani, but that he was not the victim of discriminatory treatment. Nizamani resigned in February.

Sullivan resigned in March, following a suspension over his response at the scene of a suicide when he argued with police about entering the house, a potential crime scene, and had to be escorted off the property, according to Bielenda.

Sullivan created the captain position last year, then promoted Clow July 1. It has not been filled since Clow was removed and may be eliminated, said Bielenda.

A new director, Gary Wiemokly, has been hired by the town and will begin on May 9, according to Bielenda. Art Groux, who was appointed interim director immediately after Sullivan’s resignation, will continue to fill the position in the meantime.

Bielenda said that he and Director of Public Safety Christopher Bromson are happy with the way things are moving forward.

“Morale has increased 100 percent,” he said.

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Lebanon Township has its fire company take over first aid squad ambulances and duties

Posted on 14 April 2010 by wyoskibum

LEBANON TWP., NJ — The Lebanon Township First Aid Squad is calling foul after its ambulances were taken away by the township, which paid for them.

The Township Committee voted 3-1 in closed session April 7 have the Lebanon Township Volunteer Fire Department handle the emergency medical and rescue services instead of the first aid squad, effective immediately. The fire company was designated as the first responder and the squad is no longer authorized to provide services here.

Committeeman Brian Wunder, a former squad member, was excluded from the vote on the resolution but later spoke in opposition at a press conference at squad headquarters on West Hill Road. He said the move will lead to increased response times and put residents at risk.

The squad’s lawyer said he sent a letter to the county Prosecutor’s Office regarding the committee’s potential illegal activities and was also preparing legal papers seeking an injunction against the township to prevent it from implementing the resolution.

Those who supported the forced merger believe it will improve coverage for the township by having fire and rescue under one roof and under township supervision.

Committeewoman Pat Schriver said the squad planned to start charging for services without informing the Township Committee, nor the residents and that was the final straw. She said the problems were not with the members, just the squad leadership.

Although the fire department is staffed by volunteers, it is set up as a municipal department. There are some EMTs in the department. The squad is a private, non-profit corporation and provides services to the township under an annual contract. The squad has 40 volunteers, 28 of whom are EMTs.

The Township Committee meets again on Wednesday, April 21 and the topic is likely to come up, both sides said.

Squad attorney Ronald Peles found several potential legal issues with the Township Committee’s action. Peles said he believes the issue should have been discussed publicly instead of in executive session. Previous discussions at township meetings with squad members have taken place in executive session for protection of “attorney-client privilege”, according to the meeting minutes. Peles also said the matter was not listed on the agenda for that night’s meeting and that is a violation of the Sunshine law.

Among other problems, Peles cited the use of a resolution to make the changes. He said resolutions should be used to establish administrative or procedural issues. He said the township’s ordinance only authorizes the fire company to put out fires, not provide first aid services.

Township Attorney Phil George disagreed with Peles and said the executive session was appropriate since there was a potential conflict of interest because of Wunder’s involvement with the squad. He also said the matter has been discussed at many meetings, was considered unfinished business from prior meeting and therefore did not need to be listed on the agenda.

Schriver said there have been issues between the township and the squad’s leadership for several years. She said the township has not gotten state required audits from the squad for the last few years.

The squad was hoping to have its ambulances certified so it could begin billing insurance companies for its services. That would allow the squad to be self-sustaining, he said. That inspection was to take place this week.

Schriver said the dispute is not a matter of the first aid squad versus the fire department, adding that in her opinion the squad’s leadership had let the members down.

Soon after the committee’s vote, fire company members went to the squad headquarters and moved out the ambulances which were paid for by the township. The squad still has another response vehicle which has no room to transport a patient. The squad also serves a small part of Tewksbury Township and has a contract with the state to cover Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital but won’t be able to respond if they don’t have an ambulance, Peles said.

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St. Vincent’s Hospital To Terminate Ambulance Service Friday

Posted on 09 April 2010 by wyoskibum

GREENWICH VILLAGE, NY — St. Vincent’s Hospital will end ambulance service beginning Friday, a move that was announced late Thursday just hours before it was scheduled to take effect.

The Fire Department will stop routing ambulances to the Greenwich Village hospital starting at 10 a.m. Friday, except for emergencies related to behavioral health, a hospital spokesperson said.

St. Vincent’s emergency rooms will still admit walk-in patients for treatment, the spokesperson added.

Beth Israel Medical Center, New York Downtown Hospital, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Bellevue Hospital Center have been told to stand by for ambulances diverted from St. Vincent’s on Friday.

St. Vincent’s nurses protested the closure outside the ailing hospital on Thursday after hearing the news.

“Opportunities for maintaining acute care here have been wasted because of politics and whatever transpired in closed-door meetings,” said Lorraine Seidel, director of the New York State Nurses Association, at the protest. “Now how many people in this community will suffer because care will no longer be available?”

St. Vincent’s board voted on Tuesday to shutter all inpatient services.

City Counicl Speaker Christine Quinn and Borough President Scott Stringer said at a rally Wednesday that the facility must remain an urgent-care facility to prevent the loss of emergency care below 59th Street on the West Side.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also turned out to a community board meeting on Wednesday night to slam the state for not saving the hospital.

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Ambulance service will get paramedics

Posted on 19 February 2010 by wyoskibum

REEDSBURG, WI  – The Reedsburg Area Ambulance Service will be making the switch from EMT-Intermediate to Paramedic after it was approved by their board 9-2 Tuesday night, with two members absent.

No other details – when it will be implemented and potential cost increases – were discussed.

“We are going to have paramedic and that is all we are going to do tonight,” Wayne Ballweg, RAAS president, said after the vote.

The decision to go paramedic came on the heels of Monday night’s Reedsburg Common Council meeting that got tense at times when a price jump from $3 to $10 per capita was discussed.

“I took a lot of heat from that council,” Ballweg said, adding later that “I just had to walk out on that meeting.”

Ballweg told RAAS members that building up their general fund to $150,000 hurt them in the eyes of the council, who questioned the need for an estimated $250,000 surplus with increased per resident charges in the first year of the switch.

“To listen to that council berate us was difficult,” Ballweg said. “I think they were just green with envy when they looked at our general fund. They said theirs was nothing apparently.”

Phil Raupp, RAAS director, said they could approach the council at any time again and potentially ask for less, perhaps $7 or $8 per resident, once they are closer to implementation.

Raupp said ambulance staff will start the paperwork right away to advance levels, but doesn’t anticipate a snappy response from the state.

“It could be more than a year before we are actually approved by the state,” he said, adding the paramedic service would be phased in over a two-year period.

“We’ll just be getting our feet wet to start,” Raupp said. “It’s like sticking your foot into the pool.”

After the first six months the service will be required to have a certified paramedic 25 percent of the time, followed by 50 percent of the time after one year, 75 percent of the time after 18 months and finally full time in two years.

They can choose to discontinue the higher level of service at any time along that journey; however, “Once we get to full paramedic, we’re locked in,” Raupp said.

Because the program will be phased in, there are several different ways the per resident charge can be applied. It could happen the first year there is any paramedic on staff, part way through the implementation of the service or once it has been completed.

Raupp said he wasn’t sure which direction the board would want to go on that matter. He added that the full time director, who would need to be hired to begin the process of becoming paramedic, would also help determine how much and when any extra charges may show up on tax bills.

“The further we get into it, the closer and more accurate the numbers will be,” Raupp said.

During the meeting, the board determined it would be best to post the director position in ambulance journals or newspapers for 15 days after posting it internally for some time.

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Summit County Ambulance Service gears up

Posted on 13 January 2010 by wyoskibum

New gear

New gear

FRISCO, CO — Paramedics as well as ambulance patients may benefit from equipment that Summit County Ambulance Service recently purchased with government grants.

Eleven cutting-edge cardiac monitors will offer more efficient detection of heart problems, and the included defibrillators deliver “the most effective shock possible,” said Summit County paramedic Bill Clark.

The ambulance service employees also received high-visibility, European-style uniforms complete with gloves and glow-in-the-dark helmets.

Interim Summit County Ambulance director Marc Burdick said the uniforms were designed “one of a kind” for the needs of local paramedics.

The cardiac monitors cost a total of about $316,000, and five are already in use; six more are expected to arrive in February. The Zoll E-Series heart monitors replace equipment that was about 10 years old.

Finances came through the Federal Emergency Management Agency-administered Assistance for Firefighters Grants to match finances from the ambulance service’s capital budget.

The uniforms, which cost $32,000 at about $550 each, were fully funded through a grant from the Emergency Medical and Trauma Services division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Burdick said.

Summit County Ambulance deputy director James Woodworth said the uniforms not only insulate against cold weather but offer padding for protection when responding to rescues and vehicle accidents.

He said the local ambulance service employees had input on the final product from AllMed, a company based in Jefferson, Mo.

The helmets have eye-protecting, retractable visors and are intended to improve visibility both during day and night operations.

A Park County ambulance attending a highway accident scene was recently struck by a sport-utility vehicle, causing injury to two paramedics and three other people on the scene.

Burdick said “chevron-pattern” reflective materials are being installed on ambulances to further improve visibility.

The new cardiac monitors give more detail of what is occurring in a person’s heart through additional ‚Äúleads,‚Äù or sensors used to produce a patient’s electrocardiogram. The defibrillator senses impedance and adjusts the shock power appropriately to the patient’s body type. The equipment also gives paramedics feedback on compressions during CPR.

“The upgrade to the E-series cardiac monitors represents a significant clinical improvement in the monitoring and treatment of all our patients,” Burdick said in a press release.

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Milwaukee officials scramble to address paramedic, firefighter shortage

Posted on 13 January 2010 by wyoskibum

MILWAUKEE, WI – Less than a week into the new year, a shortage of paramedics has opened a $300,000 hole in the Milwaukee Fire Department budget – a gap that city officials admitted should have been caught before the 2010 spending plan was adopted.

Authorities are now rushing to set up a paramedic trainee class and to figure out how to pay for it, officials told a Common Council committee Thursday.

At the same time, Acting Fire Chief Michael Jones and city economist Dennis Yaccarino said they are revising the budget to hire more firefighters and immediately reduce the number of firefighting companies being taken temporarily out of service from three to two a month.

Those comments came as the council’s Public Safety Committee summoned the administrators to explain why the temporary service outages, or “brownouts,” were affecting more firefighting companies than aldermen had expected.

In his 2010 city budget, Mayor Tom Barrett proposed shutting down two companies permanently and temporarily closing at least one other company every day, on a rotating basis. At the urging of Ald. Bob Donovan, the council voted instead to close one company permanently and increase the number of brownouts to two a day.

But when the Fire Department announced its plans to shut down three companies a day, Donovan called for a hearing before the committee, which he leads.

Jones said an unexpectedly large number of firefighters and paramedics had retired, pushing up overtime expenses, and he was concerned about staying within his budget.

Some staffing problems will be eased when a class of about 50 firefighters graduates from the Safety Academy in February, said David Seager, newly elected president of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association.

To plug the remaining gaps, the city will seek to add a second class of 35 to 50 firefighters in June and a class of 12 paramedics as soon as possible, Jones and Yaccarino said. Reducing spending on overtime likely would cover the cost of the firefighter class, but the city may have to dip into its contingency fund to pay for the paramedic class, Yaccarino said.

A paramedic class had been planned for 2009, but was cut from last year’s budget with the understanding it would be included in 2010, said Yaccarino, a senior member of the city’s budget team. However, the class was not included, he said.

Donovan said it was “just unconscionable” that the budget staff would not notice the looming paramedic shortage or accurately forecast the number of retirements.

Yaccarino said he would not make excuses, adding: “We just missed one. .‚ÄÇ.‚ÄÇ. I made the mistake of not double-checking, which I will take responsibility for.”

Barrett said he learned of the problem just days ago and credited Yaccarino for informing elected officials.

A cap on shutdowns

Ald. Michael Murphy, chairman of the council’s Finance & Personnel Committee, said he would push to use a $100,000 payment from Summerfest to help pay for the paramedics. At Murphy’s urging, Summerfest recently agreed to the annual fee for police and fire services as part of a lease extension.

Based on the moves to add a second firefighter class, Jones said he would reduce the number of brownouts from three to two this week.

For the rest of the year, the brownouts will rotate among 11 engine companies and 11 ladder companies in 11 firehouses that are home to two companies each, Jones said. Six companies based in three firehouses downtown and on the east side were exempted from the brownouts because of the density of the neighborhoods they serve, he said.

The committee unanimously supported Donovan’s resolution urging Jones to cap the number of brownouts at two. The full council will consider the issue Jan. 20.

Barrett – who has battled the firefighters union over staffing cuts throughout his tenure – released figures showing that the six fire deaths in each of the last two years were tied for the second-lowest death toll in 52 years, not just the past 26 years as previously thought.

He also said the 2008-’09 figure was the lowest two-year total in that period. The lowest fire death toll was four in 1998; six people each also died in fires during 1995 and 2002. Figures are incomplete before 1957, officials said.

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EMT illegally removed from job, D.C. court rules

Posted on 13 January 2010 by wyoskibum

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that an emergency medical technician who improperly took a city man with a serious head wound to a hospital near her home out of convenience was illegally removed from her job because District officials had missed a 90-day deadline to fire her.

The court ruled that D.C. officials had an obligation to fire Selena Walker in a timely manner after the January 2006 incident involving David E. Rosenbaum, a New York Times reporter who was attacked near his Chevy Chase home.

Rosenbaum was initially assessed as being intoxicated and a low-priority case, and Walker opted to drive him to Howard University Hospital instead of Sibley Memorial Hospital, which was closer. A team member said Walker made the decision because she wanted to take care of personal business afterward.

It was discovered at the hospital that Rosenbaum had a critical head wound and that important time had been lost in caring for him. He died two days later. Walker’s job had been protected in an administrative decision that the city’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department appealed.

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West Shore EMS battle heats up

Posted on 06 January 2010 by wyoskibum

Middlesex Township, PA – Come January, West Shore EMS should have four new stations up and running.

According to Larry Roberts, COO and vice president of West Shore EMS, units will be stationed at fire stations in Mt. Holly Springs and Newville, while another unit will be housed at Carlisle Regional Medical Center, and another will be housed at a station on the Harrisburg Pike in Middlesex Township.

The new stations will improve response times, Roberts said. It also may give West Shore EMS a leg up in the competition for clients.

“Response time is of the utmost importance in emergency services,” he said.

Three of the stations should be in service on the Dec. 31 target date set by West Shore EMS, while officials say the Newville station should be ready in early January.

The creation of the Mt. Holly Springs station prompted Dickinson Township officials to revisit its choice of which EMS provider — Cumberland Goodwill EMS or West Shore EMS — is first responder for advanced life support services to parts of the township.

In November, supervisors voted to split advance life support services in the township between Cumberland Goodwill EMS and West Shore EMS. Under the split, West Shore would continue to provide ALS services in the areas of the township that had been serviced by Yellow Breeches EMS.

During the board of supervisors meeting Monday night, Ivan Bretzman, the township fire chief, presented part of a time-distance study conducted by county officials.

Study

The study indicates that West Shore EMS station in Mt. Holly Springs could provide faster responses to calls in parts of territory that has been designated as Cumberland Goodwill EMS’ coverage area, Bretzman said.

The study, which Bretzman said he received Sunday, was not available when supervisors made their decision in November.

However, Bretzman said he hadn’t read the study in full and couldn’t say by how different the response times would be. He only provided a list of which company would be quicker to respond.

Supervisor Dan Wyrick said he wasn’t convinced that West Shore EMS would necessarily be faster than Cumberland Goodwill EMS.

“The picture may not show what reality is,” he said.

The time differences could be a matter of seconds, Wyrick added.

In time distance studies, said Robert Pine, chief of Cumberland Goodwill EMS, response times are configured by the time it takes to travel from a station to a landmark in a coverage area. That could cause times to vary for homes surrounding that landmark.

Cumberland Goodwill runs calls out of its station on the 500 block of South Hanover Street in Carlisle, Pine said.

The company has no plans to add additional stations, he added.

Revisit

If the township remains divided between the two companies, service will remain as it is now, Wyrick said. If the township does switch to West Shore for ALS service in more parts of the township, he said service could be improved.

Board Chairman Ray Jones said he’d like to see the matter tabled until the study is reviewed and more information is gathered.

Supervisors instructed township staff to work with the township’s emergency management coordinator to review the study.

They will come back to the board with information and possibly a recommendation at a later meeting.

Pine said he is willing work with the township to go over the data. But until then, it’ll be a waiting game, he added.

“We’ll wait to see what the supervisors have to say,” he said.

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