WASHINGTON (MyFoxDC) - Washington D.C.'S fire chief Kenneth Ellerbe will announce a plan to move paramedics off overnight hours to cover busier times of the day.
Some are worried there won't be enough help if a life is on the line.
FOX 5's Sherri Ly spoke with the chief who disputes the claims by the fire fighters union that this plan will reduce their ability to respond to calls by 36-percent.
"I don't know if that data is correct first of all," stated Ellerbe. "What I will say is that we will have an ambulance that can respond. We have twenty-one paramedic engine companies and seven EMS supervisors, who are also paramedics, who will be able to assist that ambulance to provide emergency or advanced life support care."
Some readers are jumping to the conclusion that Chief Ellerbe is removing all ALS "care" from between the hours of 0100 and 0700. Actually his plan, as reported by local news stations, is to remove the ALS "transport" during that time period and rely on paramedic engine companies and EMS supervisors for ALS delivery.
Could it work?
This sounds like a really good idea, IF the ambulance rolls with an EMT or intermediate and is intercepted by a paramedic from the fire department. It puts a lot of responsibility on those paramedics to get there and transport the patient to the hospital. It also creates a small problem of two emergency vehicles responding to the same emergency from two different locations, perhaps?
I'd like to know much more about the how this works. Here in rural America, we do this all the time. A basic life support ambulance (or advanced ambulance) respond with two BLS aboard. The paramedic almost always gets to the scene first in a non-transporting emergency response vehicle. It allows lots of options. When all three are needed, the ERV is left at the scene. When only the paramedic is needed in the back of the ambulance, one EMT drives the ambulance, and the other EMT drives the ERV. This model works well in the rural area, but I'm not sure how it will work in the city.
Personally, I think they have it backwards. Take the paramedics off the fire trucks and put them on the ambulances. Lives are saved by prompt BLS, followed by good ALS. In DC, they actually have fires, so there is a good chance of ALS delay because the engine, with the paramedic, is on a fire. I'm sure the fire guys will not want to be "out of service" because they are "down one" while the paramedic goes to the hospital (and in DC) waits in the hallway.
We are being confused by phrasing. It looks like they are going to go to BLS units met by ALS fly cars. That is how many parts of the country delivers EMS: double medic units are extremely costly. As long as the calls that need a medic get one, no worries. Also, we are talking Washington, DC. City. Hospitals pretty close, so if the patient is critical and the medic is further away than the hospital, BLS them in. That is what NYC does.
No fly cars involved. BLS units met by paramedic fire engines. No need double medic ambulances - a medic and an EMT work just fine.
Seems strange to use a fire engine for that purpose...but I too am in rural America where we are used to the fly car concept.
Many fire departments run paramedic first response heavy apparatus - including ladder trucks at $29 per mile operating cost. DOES NOT make much sense. Some FDs have come to their senses - for example: http://www.fdnntv.com/Tualatin-Valley-Fire-Rescue-Cars.
But if what you have is big red trucks, you will mostly run big red trucks!
I see--our ALS fly cars come from the hospital, ambulances from the fire company. The fire companies that have ALS respond in MICU with paramedic and EMT. If in their first due area, they transport. If not, they provide ALS and if they decide to ride in, the EMT follows the volunteer ambulance in their MICU and picks up the paramedic at the hospital.
It should be noted here, as it has on other forums, that DC FEMS has A LOT of paramedics. They just use them, uh, stupidly. It has already been mentioned many times that DC FEMS has "over 240" paramedics. How is that a shortage? That is most likely more than double the number of medics needed to handle the ALS call volume.
There is not a single shred of evidence that ALS engines do anything but increase taxes. NOTHING. Every ALS engine in existence should cease. All money that would otherwise go to those ALS engines should go toward either putting more BLS ambulances in service OR, probably better, funding lay-person CPR training.