Rightsizing emergency services
Tom Holman is on a small team of paramedics trained to drive one of the EMS motorcycles, which are stocked with supplies such as cardiac defibrillators, bandages, splints and blood pressure monitors. Alberto Martínez /AMERICAN-STATESMAN.
I've mentioned in the past how the merging of emergency medical services and fire departments is often more about maintaining employment levels for fire fighters and that for cost reasons it's better to develop the right service footprint and plan for each service, rather than merge them badly. See "Rationalizing fire and emergency services."
Austin-Travis County EMS has been supporting special events with motorcycles for about two years, but this is the first time they have been used for regular duty, paramedic Juan Hinojosa said.
During rush-hour jams on Austin's main artery, ambulances can get stuck in traffic, too. The motorcycles, however, can zip down the median and usually arrive about five minutes before the ambulance, he said.
"Being that it's so congested, it's a lot easier to get initial patient care," Hinojosa said, adding that the medics can also quickly determine whether an ambulance is actually needed, making overall emergency response more efficient.
Hinojosa is one of nine Austin-Travis County EMS paramedics who are trained to drive the motorcycles, which cost between $12,000 and $15,000 each. Three of the bikes were donated, and one was purchased through a grant, Hinojosa said. The cycles — BMW GS 650 GSP police authority models — are stocked with cardiac defibrillators, medications, bandages, splints and blood pressure monitors, among other items.
In DC, the Fire Department is attempting to change the personnel schedule to reduce costs, and of course, the firefighters are against the changes. See "Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe addresses department tensions" from the Washington Post.
It'd be better for the entire department to engage in wide-ranging planning effort first. And a big element of a plan should be how to best deliver emergency services.
Fire trucks are justified as the first responder for medical emergencies because they are "faster." Motorcycles and other smaller equipment can be faster still, and a lot less expensive.
Labels: emergency management planning