Report Finds Ambulances Reach Emergencies Faster, Patients Receive Better Care, as Communities Cooperate
May 26, 2005
Ambulance response times have been faster since the City of Madison and four other communities teamed up with Dane County to streamline Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service to people experiencing life threatening injury or illness, according to a Final Report released today.
Dane County and the Cities of Madison, Middleton and Sun Prairie and the town of Madison and Fitch-Rona EMS agreed in June 2004 to participate in a pilot program to provide county-wide service in life-threatening situations. Sun Prairie joined the pilot when it added ALS service to its Basic Life Support (BLS) emergency service.
In 2004, Dane County provided $50,000 to allow all participating ALS providers to receive $150 per ALS patient contact for the duration of the pilot.
Ambulance services are provided by the participating cities, villages and towns, at an annual cost of about $800,000 to staff and operate each ambulance crew (the City of Madison operates seven such crews).
The idea of the pilot is simple: the Dane County Public Safety Communications (911) Center dispatches the closest available appropriately equipped ambulance to life-threatening emergencies, regardless of any geographical boundaries.
“Our goal was to get help to people faster by working together. We are proud that our citizens are receiving faster, better care due to this collaboration,” said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “We’ve cut the time for EMS response; we’ve made a strong EMS system in our county even better.” The EMS system includes both Basic Life and Advanced Life Service providers.
“In emergency situations, every second counts,” said Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. “By sharing EMS services across municipal boundaries, we are saving precious time that could truly mean the difference between life or death. People in life-threatening situations don’t care about the name of the community on the side of the ambulance that comes to save their lives.”
“I am pleased that data indicates that the ALS pilot project has enhanced the quality of advanced life support services in Dane County. It shows that all communities benefit when they set aside jurisdictional considerations and work together on common endeavors,” said Town of Madison Chairman Jim Campbell.
Dane County has invested $130,000 from a Department of Homeland Security grant and the City of Madison has budgeted $65,000 in upgrading the training and software used by 911 dispatchers to provide Priority Medical Dispatch. This allows the dispatcher to more accurately pinpoint the nature of the call and to send the most appropriate level of response.
The Final Report covers the six month pilot period from June 18 through December 31, 2004 when 533 calls for ambulance service were made outside the jurisdiction of the responding ambulance. Following are key findings:
· Because ALS ambulances are now being dispatched at the same time as the BLS ambulance in cases determined to be life-threatening, approximately seven minutes have been cut from ALS response times. Previously, BLS providers arrived at the scene first, analyzed the seriousness of the situation, then called for paramedic level (ALS) support if the emergency was life-threatening.
· The distribution of calls shows that the burden is being shared proportionately between the four (now five) providers.
· The concern that an ambulance operating outside its jurisdiction would result in lack of coverage in the home jurisdiction, called “backfill” was unfounded.
· Patients conditions improved en route.
· Paramedics are working seamlessly across jurisdictional boundaries.
The next steps for the Dane County program will be:
· Dane County is contributing $130,000 in state Homeland Security grants and the City of Madison has budgeted $65,000 for the technology upgrade to continue to enhance the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) capacity for ALS providers participating in the program.
· To study and make recommendations on the consolidation of medical direction and;
· To perform on-going program evaluation.
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Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive 267-8823 or cell 669-5605
George Twigg, Office of the Mayor 266-4611
Jim Campbell, Town of Madison 251-6200