Great Idea | REMSA’s Thank You Notes Page

Reno, Nevada’s REMSA provides nationally recognized ground ambulance service within Washoe County, Nevada. Don’t miss their amazing new “Thank a Healthcare Provider” page, where members of their community are able to share digital thank you notes with REMSA’s Paramedics, EMTs, telecommunicators, pilots, and nurses as well as administrative and operations staff.

Check Out the REMSA Thank You Page

EMS Week Featured Service | Pafford Medical Services

Pafford Medical Services
Hope, Arkansas
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Meet Pafford Medical Services

Founded in 1967, Pafford Medical Services continues to provide over 80 communities with the latest, most sophisticated level of pre-hospital care. As a family-owned and operated company, Pafford serves communities across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With over 1200 members of Team Pafford, over 180 ambulances, 3 medical fixed-wing aircraft, 3 rotor-wing aircraft, 2 communications centers, and our corporate billing office, Pafford is staffed 24/7.

It is Pafford’s mission to provide its communities, healthcare partners, and facilities they serve with the highest standards of mobile healthcare. While providing communities with proper 911 ambulance coverage, the company has become known nationwide for its Special Response Taskforce which assists during national disasters. As the company evolves to cater to the citizens it serves, Pafford took notice of the needs of industries and businesses during the global pandemic and now operates OnSite Healthcare Services in order to safeguard workforces as the world resumes operation amidst COVID-19.  Another pillar of the company’s mission is its promise as a contributive community partner by providing educational resources, medical equipment, and scholarships along with medical standby for special events.

Pafford is fully equipped to provide the following services:

  • ALS/BLS Ground Ambulance Transportation
  • 911 Paramedic Ambulance
  • Mobile Integrated Healthcare Services
  • OnSite Healthcare Services
  • Air Medical Fixed-WingTransporation
  • Air Medical Rotor-Wing Transportation
  • Government and Industrial OnSite Services
  • Event Standby Services
  • Domestic and International Special Response Taskforce
  • Community Education Resources
  • Medical Billing

The Pafford Medical Services COVID-19 Response

It was evident that with the novel coronavirus, crew members would need to be properly trained to combat the transmission of the virus. Along with obtaining PPE for their medics, Pafford Medical Services provided additional, in-depth training and education to crew members all while increasing health surveillance, screening, and tracking of employees. Due to Pafford spanning across 5 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the company activated its Emergency Operations Center to provide support to its primary 911 PSAPS.

In these unprecedented times, Pafford Medical Services remained a leader in community discussions and decisions related to COVID-19. To better serve its communities, Pafford dedicated ambulances in their regions to coordinate the transport of COVID cases or suspected COVID cases. All of Pafford’s systems were able to remain fully operational thanks to the diligent work and daily communications with their leadership teams to keep all team members up to date on the latest information for their communities.

“We will never be able to fully express our gratitude to not only our management teams but to our boots on the ground who have been in the trenches remaining strong and vigilant over the past 10 weeks,” says CEO, Jamie Pafford-Gresham. “These men and women have gone above and beyond the call of duty, serving others, their communities, and their country during this global health crisis.”

The Pafford Medical Services Leadership Perspective

“As a rural EMS provider, our challenges on a day-to-day basis require our medics to be prepared to care for our communities, many of which do not have hospitals and with clinics working limited hours, our medics are always there 24/7/365.  We are the Healthcare Safety Net and our team does a wonderful, compassionate job. They don’t back down and provide a vital service to our citizens. During this outbreak, I am proud of not only our EMS team members but the entire EMS system across America for stepping up in such a critical time in our Country.”—Jamie Pafford-Gresham, CEO, Pafford Medical Services

Frontline Voices from Pafford Medical Services

“It takes a servant’s heart and a strong mind. But I count it as pure joy to help those in need.”-Alvin Short, Pafford EMS, Paramedic, Canadian County, OK

EMS is important because even when things get rough, the world keeps getting scarier and sickness continues to rise…we never quit.”—Meghann Jones EMT Pafford EMS, Canadian County, Oklahoma

“EMS is important because it provides immediate medical care to people who need it– bringing the ER to the patient in a timely manner.” Jarlicia Scott FTO/ Paramedic

“EMS is an extremely important part of community safety, doctors don’t make house calls anymore so EMS practitioners stand readily available to provide that extension of care while treating and managing acute illnesses and trauma.”—Randy Murry, EMS Operations Manager, Coahoma County, Mississippi,  Star of Life 2020

How Pafford Medical Services Celebrates EMS Week

Most people that know the Pafford Family, know that celebration is normally in the form of passing the plate, sharing in a meal, and most importantly, fellowship. Pafford Medical Services makes it a point to take a step back and bring families together, to recognize and honor the sacrifices made from all members of the families that have a loved one on the front-lines. This year, team gifts will be given out, but most importantly, Pafford realizes that the ultimate gifts are its people.

EMS Week Featured Service | Hall Ambulance Service, Inc.

Hall Ambulance Service, Inc.
Bakersfield, CA
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Meet Hall Ambulance Service

Hall Ambulance Service, Inc. was founded by Harvey L. Hall on February 10, 1971. Today, the Company serves as the 9-1-1 paramedic provider for 88% of Kern County, California’s population, or roughly 780,000 people.

Hall Ambulance provides advanced life support, basic life support, and regional ground and air interfacility transport solutions through Hall Critical Care Transport.

The Hall Ambulance Service COVID-19 Response

Weeks before the first confirmed patient was detected in our community, Hall Ambulance began implementing extensive measures in preparation for the coronavirus pandemic reaching Bakersfield and Kern County. An internal task force was formed to determine how best to confront this new disease. As of May 17, 204 Hall Ambulance employees have cared for and transported 221 confirmed COVID-19 patients; however, we are fortunate that zero employees have been infected with the virus.

One of the first places the Company focused its attention was by having its dispatchers use the Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance (EIDS) tool enabling emergency medical dispatchers to advise crews responding to a suspected COVID-19 patient of the need to donn PPE prior to making patient contact.

Before the first transport of a suspected COVID-19 patient occurred, Hall Ambulance looked at best practices and then developed its own protocol for decontaminating ambulances involved in the transport of a coronavirus patient. This stringent process involves nearly four staffing-hours to complete, using hospital-grade germicidal wipes and spray approved by the CDC, and is performed by two technicians (in PPE), and a manager, who works from a safe zone to observe and document the process. As of May 18, 238 ambulances have been decontaminated so that they are properly sanitized and ready to respond to the next request for medical aid.

Hall Ambulance implemented a screening process for all employees prior to starting their shift to ensure they are not exhibiting symptoms. The screening includes a temperature check, and questions about sore throat, new or change in cough, and whether they are experiencing shortness of breath.

For those employees who came in contact with COVID-19 patients, the human resources department places daily phone calls to check on their well-being.

The Company has also worked to assist employees with locating daycare providers and provided financial assistance to cover the cost so those employees could provide care with the peace of mind knowing their little ones were safe and secure.

With the pandemic taking a toll on everyone, a licensed therapist was contracted to work with any employee who felt they needed additional support for their mental health.

To help minimize exposure for non-clinical staff, Hall Ambulance implemented staggered schedules and remote working.

The Hall Ambulance Service Leadership Perspective

“Hall Ambulance employees have raised the bar in their response to the coronavirus pandemic. The extra amount of care and compassion they are demonstrating to their patients, coworkers, and communities is inspiring and indicative of what emergency medical services is all about.”
Lavonne C. Hall, President &  CEO

Frontline Voices from Hall Ambulance Service

“I believe EMS is extremely important to be the immediate help that our patients often need. We are able to begin care and help gather information from our patients during our transport in the ambulance that will quicken treatment once at the hospital.”
Paramedic Jennifer Phillips

How Hall Ambulance Service Celebrates EMS Week

A few weeks ago, President and CEO Lavonne C. Hall introduced a “Heroes Work Here” campaign consisting of banners being placed at all ambulance post locations throughout the Company’s response area. For EMS Week, Hall Ambulance is presenting custom backpacks emblazoned with the “Heroes Work Here” logo to its employees in appreciation of everything they do. In addition, a social media campaign highlighting several of the paramedics, EMTs, RNs, and dispatchers will be posted throughout the week.

EMS Week Featured Service | Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

Metro West Ambulance, Inc.
Hillsboro, Oregon
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Meet Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. has a history rich in meeting the needs and caring for those we serve from very small rural communities to large urban areas. We’ve had great successes, marked many firsts in our industry, have been a part of the evolution of prehospital care over the decades. Founded in 1953, we have grown from a small base operation in  Forest Grove, Oregon to the largest and oldest continuously owner-operated ambulance service in the Pacific Northwest. Today our Family of Companies has over 900 employees and includes seven licensed ALS ambulance services in Oregon, one licensed ALS ambulance service in northern California, and one brokerage in Oregon serving the Pacific Northwest. Under the guidance of J.D. Fuiten, our founder’s son and our company’s owner and President, Metro West Ambulance has expanded into a Family of Companies serving Oregon, Washington and northern California.  Our companies include Metro West Ambulance, Pacific West Ambulance, Medix Ambulance, Bay Cities Ambulance, Umpqua Valley Ambulance, Mid-Valley Ambulance, Del Norte Ambulance and Woodburn Ambulance.

Metro West Ambulance , serving Washington County and the Portland Metro region provides  911 response and a variety of interfacility mobile healthcare services including Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU)  providing ICU RN level Critical Care transport; Secure Transport for behavioral health patients; EMT staffed wheelchair services plus a large event services division serving the largest venues and biggest events in our state.  We also are one of the largest providers of Mobile Integrated Health services with 18 Paramedics working with Oregon’s health systems.

The Metro West Ambulance, Inc. COVID-19 Response

In Oregon, our Governor declared a state of emergency and stay at home orders early on including school and business shut down. This allowed us to flatten the curve earlier as a state. We saw  PPE, decon, patient treatment changes became a daily occurrence; treatment changes; innovation regarding patient care; a deeper closeness with other agencies, sending and receiving hospitals because we were “in it together” and we knew this virus had no mercy and no one was immune. With the quarantine and school shut down came many tough concerns such as  childcare coverage. Crews worry about exposing their family and inadvertently bringing this awfulness home. Staff was impacted by worries about their patients who show signs of the virus, wondering if the patient survived and grieving for those who died. Instituting strict guidelines in and out of the ambulances and physical distancing to protect us all.  As we took on new challenges-we had staff expand their skill set in new roles in mobile integrated health partnering both regionally and across our country creating a virtual hospital to treat hospital patients in their own homes; our EMT’s learned how to do COVID19 testing; others in our industrial medicine division took the lead on temp checks for large employers; we created partnerships in our community that didn’t exist before.  Our Paramedics and EMTs in our 911 system took on new challenges of effectively treating and transporting these patients working with other responding agencies. Together we have learned to track how this virus spreads; to talk about how it is affecting everyone in all departments and most of all, together we continue to make plans knowing that the virus isn’t done with us.

The Metro West Ambulance, Inc. Leadership Perspective

” What sets us apart is that we  keep those we serve first and foremost believing that all communities no matter how small or how large deserve the best regarding mobile healthcare that includes emergency medical services, interfacility mobile healthcare and mobile integrated healthcare/community paramedicine models. Our people strive everyday to give their communities their best.”

J.D. Fuiten, Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. , Owner/President

Frontline Voices from Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

“EMS is important because we are there to help people in need. It could be an emergency situation or a non-emergent trip the to the doctor. We care about people and the community and are here to serve.”—Rachael Koran, Operations Supervisor, EMT

“We in EMS are the best chance of survival many patients have when it comes to  sudden catastrophic injuries or illnesses. We’re not hesitant to step forward and do what needs to be done to care for those that need us.”—Jan Lee, Public Information Officer, Hospital Liaison, Paramedic

“When you have people who can no longer help themselves, we’re (EMS) the ones who are there to help them.”—Benjamin Maduell, Communications Center Floor Supervisor, EMT, EMD

How Metro West Ambulance, Inc. Celebrates EMS Week

In this  new era of social distancing, the celebrating is still on-just different.  We want our crews to know how important their work is;  what it means to the communities we serve to know that they are there for them;  and that most of all we value them knowing how hard this pandemic has been on them and their families.

We will be bringing a food cart to our main office with amazing Greek food instead of our traditional outdoor family party & BBQ.  We’ll have our crews text in their orders or pre-order them  for pickup allowing them to enjoy before or during or after shift- at their convenience.  This was our most popular food truck from the past.

Our cities will be doing EMS proclamations for us during their city council meetings that we can either Zoom into and they will also videotape it for us to play for our crews on screens in our crew room.  This will allow them to know that their communities support them.

We especially want to recognize them for the heroes they are….we’ll be setting out huge banners at our work sites with the messaging of “Heroes Work Here” . We’ll be doing social media blasting recognizing them all for what they do. We’ll be doing video messaging to them from our management and executive team thanking them for their service.

We want them all to know just how valued they are, how proud we are of them and how much they mean to all those around them.

EMS Week Featured Service | Harris County Emergency Corps

Harris County Emergency Corps
Houston, Texas
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Meet Harris County Emergency Corps

Committed to preserving lives through clinical excellence, progressive medicine, and professional service, Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) is a premier EMS agency and the only Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services accredited agency with headquarters in Houston.

HCEC was the first EMS agency formed in the state of Texas (1933). Serving approximately 400,000 citizens in 76 square miles in north Harris County, HCEC provides 911 services for Harris County Emergency Services District No. 1. HCEC also provides event medical coverage across Texas, trains clinicians with highly specialized classes, communicates with 11 other agencies through our innovative dispatch center, and leads Houston’s first Community Health Paramedic Program.

The Harris County Emergency Corps COVID-19 Response

With the pandemic of COVID-19, HCEC has seen a remarkable team pull together to tackle new challenges in our community and our organization.  Utilizing the power of social media, website content, and informational flyers for our community, we have attempted to keep the public informed of best practices and resources available to them for assistance.  Responding to emergencies with an emphasis on patient and crew safety has been a top priority.

Harris County and the Houston area has seen some of the highest number of cases in the State of Texas. As a result, our Dispatch center incorporated new tools and protocols to screen for COVID-19 symptoms.  With our special events division not staffing large gatherings, part-time event medics are helping in the Communications center with screenings, and also by staffing dedicated PPE units.  To ensure additional protection, the Clinical department implemented aggressive PPE usage guidance and modified medical guidelines early on in the pandemic to keep our team healthy and safe.

Communication is crucial, not only with the community, but also with the staff.  As such, the HCEC Management team holds daily conference calls and connects weekly with employees through virtual Town Hall meetings.  In addition, our Infection control officer communicates regularly with Hospital partners to determine if our patients are positive for COVID-19.

The Harris County Emergency Corps Leadership Perspective

“Our team is truly remarkable. Everyone is working together with a “whatever it takes” mentality to support each other and our community to the best of our ability during the Covid-19 pandemic.  As an example, HCEC volunteered with Gallery Furniture and Kroger to help distribute over 2,000 meal kits to seniors in and around our service area.”—Jeremy Hyde, CEO

Frontline Voices from Harris County Emergency Corps

“We get a chance to see people at their worst and make their day a little better. It’s about making a difference every day, whether it’s using ALS interventions, or just holding a patient’s hand to comfort them.” – Jodie Gutierrez, 911 Paramedic

“EMS is important because it gives us a chance to help those that need us most. It provides a comfort to know that we will always be there.” – Amanda Crystal, 911 Paramedic

“EMS is important because it helps to circle and close the loop within communities and population health.”– Steven Nelson, 911 Paramedic

Taking care of employees to the best of our abilities is always a top priority for HCEC.  Executive Director Jeremy Hyde has brought in a mobile barber for the staff to get free haircuts on two different occasions during COVID.  Ed Kolczynksi, Receptionist for HCEC had this to say about the experience, “This was just amazing! HCEC cares more about their employees than any other company I’ve ever worked for, and I’ve been working for a really long time! Not to mention, I got a great haircut, and it only cost me a $5.00 tip.”

Will Barrett, HR Coordinator for HCEC offers a positive effect from COVID; “COVID has brought people together. Neighbors wave more and say hello when we see each other; some have even offered us supplies, like masks and cleaners. We have more conversations from across our lawns with one another due to limited contact with other people, whereas before, we barely communicated.”

“For EMS support staff working remote, COVID-19 has changed the way we manage our ‘new normal’. Dining room tables have become our desks, and the refrigerator has become our enemy!”—Toya Thompkins, Payroll Coordinator

“EMS is extremely important, whether in a pandemic or a “normal” day in Houston. We respond to a variety of calls each day, and for many, it is one of the worst days of their life.  I see my co-workers make a difference in people’s lives every single day.” – Anonymous 911 medic

How Harris County Emergency Corps Celebrates EMS Week

EMS Week at HCEC will be different this year in a variety of ways. Typically we have a large banquet where we celebrate milestones and provide recognition awards. This year, however, we are scheduling a company-wide picnic later in the year when it is safe to celebrate in person with our staff and their families.

EMS week is also normally filled with daily social events at HCEC. Even though COVID19 will keep us from celebrating in a group setting, we will provide drop off service at each station for meals and snack baskets and conduct contests throughout the week for each shift.  In addition, our annual Commemorative T-shirt Design contest is already underway.  Employees who submit artwork utilizing the National EMS week slogan are entered into the contest.  The winning design artist is recognized in our newsletter and social media and awarded a $100 gift card, while all employees receive a free commemorative T-shirt celebrating EMS week.

HCEC will also be surprising the staff during EMS Week with an early distribution of our annual longevity bonus.

EMS Week Featured Service | Great Falls Emergency Services

Great Falls Emergency Services
Great Falls, Montana
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Meet Great Falls Emergency Services

Great Falls Emergency Services (GFES) has been providing primary ALS ambulance response to the City of Great Falls and communities in rural Cascade County since 1997. In addition to 911 response, GFES provides BLS, ALS, and Critical Care inter-facility transports, event standbys, and Mobile Integrated Healthcare services. GFES employees 54 Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians. The GFES fleet is comprised of six Type III ALS ambulances, a type I ALS unit, and two response vehicles.

The Great Falls Emergency Services COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 situation necessitated some significant initiatives  at GFES including:

  1. modified pre-hospital protocols, including treatment in place, minimization of aerosolization procedures, and minimizing the quantity of first-responder patient contact
  2. office and workflow changes such as admin staff working from home and 24/7 duty crew screenings
  3. more sophisticated Personal Protective Equipment capabilities and protocols including decon procedures and capabilities

The GFES staff, once in possession of accurate and timely information, and once equipped properly, were fantastic. Our EMS Providers arrive early to work for screening procedures, responded aggressively to all calls for medical need, maintained an excellent ‘can-do’ attitude, and didn’t flinch in their mission to provide front-line response and medical care to their communities.

The Great Falls Emergency Services Leadership Perspective

My admiration for the men and women at GFES and their families knows no bounds; they approach difficult situations with professionalism, technical competence,  enthusiasm, and especially compassion.
—GFES President David Kuhn

Frontline Voices from Great Falls Emergency Services

“We are the first-line responders when someone is having a bad day due to sudden illness or injury. It means a lot to be able to be of service to our friends and neighbors when they are in need.” Kathy Wajer, Paramedic Supervisor and Critical Care Paramedic

“EMS handles the situations that no-one else can: the semi-responsive heavily intoxicated patient found on the street, the child with a broken arm at their Little League game, the elderly person at home having a stroke or cardiac issue–I like being able to contribute to a successful resolution of these events and to help the patient get through their difficult time” – Amber Malave, Paramedic Training Coordinator

How Great Falls Emergency Services Celebrates EMS Week

The centerpiece to our EMS Week celebration is a daily barbeque that Management puts on for that day’s crews (we put on our aprons and fire up a smoker to cook tri-tip, pork loin, and sirloins).

We also do daily bingo competitions with prizes and have general door prize drawings throughout the week. The community usually steps up and we receive a lot of deliveries of snacks and nice gifts.

We are also making vehicle decals that will be given out to staff. We typically offer a free community CPR class and offer child car seat installations.

EMS Week Featured Service | Eagle County Paramedic Services

Eagle County Paramedic Services
Edwards, Colorado
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Meet Eagle County Paramedic Services

Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies and encompassing the world-class ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, Eagle County Paramedic Services (ECPS) has a rich history in the valley. In 1967, the first ambulance service consisted of a station wagon driven by a doctor. Since then, Eagle County Paramedic Services has transitioned from Eagle County Ambulance District (1982) and Western Eagle County Ambulance District (1988) to the merging of Eagle County Health Service District and Western Eagle County Health Service District to form Eagle County Paramedic Services in 2013. ECPS is one of only six ambulance transport agencies, out of 200 in Colorado, to be nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS).

ECPS operates out of five ambulance stations in Vail, Avon, Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum, Colorado and covers approximately 1,692 square miles. 80 employees work for the district in various roles with the largest division being operations to respond to emergency calls. Other services include community paramedicine, telehealth, youth programs, senior health and wellness and support for special events including major events like the GoPro Mountain Games, FIS World Cup Ski Races, Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships, Colorado Classic bicycle race and others.

The Eagle County Paramedic Services COVID-19 Response

Eagle County, Colorado was one of the first “hot spots” in Colorado and in the nation. Due to the excellent foresight and preparation by ECPS administration and cooperation between the health care entities and first responders, Eagle County was able to “get in front” of the virus and help flatten the curve.

ECPS crews not only responded to 911 calls but also transported patients to Denver-area facilities–transfers that could take eight-12 hours. The escalation of the virus took place in March, when the Rocky Mountains are still in full-on winter mode, adding inclement weather (snow, ice, etc.) to the stress of these transfers.

In addition to creatively sourcing PPE for crews (including utilizing Helly Hansen rain suits that are durable and reusable rather than disposable gowns), ECPS thought outside of the box on a number of issues. These solutions included hiring members of the Vail and Beaver Creek Ski Patrol, many of whom have extensive first responder experience and some who are former EMTs, as surge crew in case full-time crews became sick or overstretched.

As Eagle County has moved into the first phase of opening up businesses and supporting the residents, ECPS is pleased to report that none of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19, a remarkable feat considering the testing, transports and community support achieved during this unprecedented time. We will continue to provide skilled, professional and compassionate healthcare to our community no matter what the future might bring.

The Eagle County Paramedic Services Leadership Perspective

“Our entire organization has risen above and beyond the call of duty during our response to COVID, responding with innovation and agility throughout this response. These professionals are the finest group of people I have ever worked with.”—Christopher Montera, Chief Executive Officer, Eagle County Paramedic Services

Frontline Voices from Eagle County Paramedic Services

“Why do I think EMS is important? Imagine if no one came to your aid when you had your heart attack, your stroke, your car wreck, your fall. EMS has a direct effect on your quality of life: every patient, every call, every day.” —Peter Brandes, Chief Operating Officer (35 years in EMS)

“A typical EMS service is important because it allows immediate 911 medical care for those who need it. EMS in Eagle County, though, not only provides that immediate 911 care, but also provides search and rescue, SWAT, community paramedic outreach, and some of the most advanced critical care services in the state.” —Scott Harmsen, Paramedic Shift Supervisor

“An Important and early step in our healthcare system, EMS saves lives, buys time and triages our citizens’ and community’s needs.” —Hank Bevington, Paramedic Shift Supervisor

“Why do I find emergency response and paramedicine so important? The truest honor is I am part of something bigger than myself, meeting people where they are. When the chips are down, whether they are incapacitated or simply have lost control of their immediate situation, I have agency to render aid and connect resources that promote general welfare and personal health accross the spectrum of the human condition.”—Ryan Bush, paramedic

How Eagle County Paramedic Services Celebrates EMS Week

Eagle County Paramedic Services is celebrating in several ways. In lieu of physical, branded gifts this year, we’re distributing gift cards to local restaurants for our crews. In addition to supporting our local dining establishments (which are unable to operate as “business as usual” during the Coronavirus pandemic) and grocery stores, this focuses on an experience rather than “stuff” and allows them to share the support with their friends and family–in a socially distant, responsible way.

We’re also running a full-page “thank you” ad in our local newspaper and through local partner e-blasts and celebrating through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.

EMS Week Featured Service | Cataldo Ambulance

Cataldo Ambulance
Somerville, Massachusetts
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Meet Cataldo Ambulance

Cataldo Ambulance Service was founded in 1977, and serves Eastern Massachusetts, providing 911 emergency response and EMD services, non-emergency ALS, BLS, and chair car transportation, and EMS education and training. In 2019 Cataldo was awarded the first license in Massachusetts for mobile integrated healthcare (MIH), and in 2020, was selected as a Massachusetts provider for the innovative new ET3 initiative. Cataldo is proud to have 800 staff and a fleet of 99 ambulances and 6 SmartCare Mobile Integrated Healthcare vehicles.

The Cataldo Ambulance COVID-19 Response

It was early on during the Massachusetts State of Emergency that the local healthcare community realized the value of having mobile integrated healthcare resources available to support assessing and testing patients, as well as managing mildly symptomatic COVID+ patients at home. Our SmartCare MIH team was suddenly in high demand and actively supporting efforts for many major hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout the Greater Boston area.

The Cataldo Ambulance Leadership Perspective

“I have never been more proud of our staff. Our front line responders continue to step up and support our communities with the highest level of professionalism and clinical excellence imaginable. Our Communications Center and support staff are equally impressive in their dedication and commitment.”
Diana Cataldo, Founder

Frontline Voices from Cataldo Ambulance

“When that 911 call comes in, it’s pretty important that it gets handled the right way and the right level of support is deployed. Those critical seconds spent fielding a call can make all the difference in the outcome for a patient.”

Tim Gorman, Emergency Medical Dispatcher

“I started out as an EMT.  Now I’m a Paramedic, sharing what I’ve learned in the field with others. I absolutely believe that what we do every day makes a difference to the people we serve.”

Ryan Kelley, Paramedic

How Cataldo Ambulance Celebrates EMS Week

Our organization will acknowledge EMS Week in May, but our formal celebration will be when we can be together in August. This coincides with our 43rd anniversary,  gives us something to look forward to and will allow us to share our appreciation with more of our team, and hopefully, in a less stressful environment.

EMS Week Featured Service | Bell Ambulance

Bell Ambulance
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Meet Bell Ambulance

Bell Ambulance
Bell Ambulance was founded in 1977. We proudly serve the community in southeast Wisconsin with 8 stations, 67 ambulances and almost 400 employees. We provide care on both 911 emergencies and interfacility transports and we have providers licensed from EMT to Critical Care Paramedic. We also provide EMS support for some of the largest festivals and sporting events in the State of Wisconsin. Our EMS staff are supported by an EMD Communication Center which has been honored as an Accredited Center of Excellence by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

The Bell Ambulance COVID-19 Response

The COVID 19 Pandemic only confirmed what we have always known, we have a fantastic team of EMTs and Paramedics! Our crews continue to provide the same excellent patient care while protecting themselves and their patients. While we have not seen as large an outbreak as some other areas, we have treated many patients for COVID 19. What we did not fully anticipate was the large number of patients with COVID 19 who would be unable to get to their essential appointments, such as dialysis, by their usual means. In response to the pandemic, we have activated our Advanced Infectious Disease Team and they have been supporting our community by providing transportation for these individuals while they are in quarantine as well as responding to other calls for COVID 19.

The Bell Ambulance Leadership Perspective

“Milwaukee is a very diverse community, and has many of the challenges faced by larger cities.  Our staff care for the people of Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin with professionalism, dignity, and confidence.  We are proud of them every day.”
Chris Anderson, Director of Operations

Frontline Voices from Bell Ambulance

“EMS is important because it’s bigger than us… not everyone can do it, and it’s one of the most selfless professions that a person can do. I take pride in being able to provide emergency care for others and their family as if they were my own.”
Stephanie Walmsley,  CCEMTP/QA Officer

“Being first point of contact makes us educators of the community.”
Westin Knigge, EMT Crew Chief

How Bell Ambulance Celebrates EMS Week

This year we will be celebrating while doing our best to maintain social distancing. Our community has been very supportive of front-line healthcare workers and we, in turn, want to support local businesses in our community during this difficult time. So we are working with local restaurants to coordinate curbside meals for our crews during EMS Week.

EMS Week Featured Service | Acadian Ambulance

Acadian Ambulance
Lafayette, Louisiana
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Meet Acadian Ambulance

Acadian Ambulance Service began operations in September 1971 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Over the past 49 years, our company has expanded to include health, safety, security and transportation services. Acadian Companies, which comprises Acadian Ambulance, Acadian Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, Acadian Total Security, National EMS Academy and Safety Management Systems, has grown to employ nearly 5,000 employees across the United States.

Acadian Ambulance currently operates in more than 70 parishes and counties spanning Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, providing service to more than 21 million residents and covering almost 60,000 square miles. Our medical fleet includes more than 600 ground ambulances, vans, ambulance buses, helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes. We provide emergency and non-emergency, helicopter and fixed-wing medical transport, mobile healthcare, community event support and contracted event standbys at venues including the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Minute Maid Park in Houston and FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Acadian Ambulance COVID-19 Response

When COVID-19 cases began rising in Louisiana, Acadian Ambulance was immediately on the front lines, transporting suspected patients and working to protect employees from exposure. We have worked hand-in-hand with other EMS agencies and first responders throughout our service area, particularly in hard-hit New Orleans.

Under contracts with the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and Louisiana Ambulance Alliance, we staffed surge units from our other Louisiana regions that were sent to New Orleans. Most have since been deactivated.

We have also sent strike teams with medics from our Texas operations to assist in New Orleans.

We have assisted with operations at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans since it opened in early April as a temporary hospital for less severe COVID-19 patients.

In addition to these specialized efforts, our medics continue to run calls 24/7, whether related to COVID-19 or not. They continue to follow protocols on proper PPE and patient interaction in order to limit exposure.

Our safety director and operations management worked hard to procure half-face respirators for our front line medics so that they could feel a stronger sense of security against exposure.

Our medical directors, Dr. Chuck Burnell and Dr. Emily Kidd, along with our safety director, Neil Davis, have recorded near-daily update videos that are shared with our employees. The topics range from PPE protocol, operations updates, safety directives and latest statistics to messages of encouragement and support.

Our Chairman & CEO, Richard Zuschlag, has also recorded video messages for employees and the public to share his gratitude and support.

We have been utilizing our social media channels to share important messages for the community in staying protected, along with spotlighting our front line medics and thanking the numerous businesses and individuals who have graciously donated PPE and food to our company and displayed their support in other ways.

The Acadian Ambulance Leadership Perspective

“Our entire team has been doing outstanding work since this pandemic started. Our medics are facing daunting challenges on the front line, our support teams have stepped up so that our medics can fulfill their mission and our Safety Management Systems teams have shifted their skill sets to provide essential screening and disinfection verification services to a variety of industries. Everyone at Acadian is playing a part in what will be another cornerstone in our history. This time has truly shown how we embody One Team, One Mission.”

Richard Zuschlag, Acadian Ambulance Chairman & CEO

Frontline Voices from Acadian Ambulance

“EMS is a lifesaving link between people who need medical care, but are unable to get to a hospital, and the physicians and hospitals themselves. EMS allows highly trained paramedics and EMTs to bring ER- and ICU-level care to people wherever they may be, and continue that high-quality care en route to the hospital, which greatly increases chances for survival and improves patient outcomes.”
Adam Olivier,  Acadian Ambulance Operations Coordinator

“My definition of success is to constantly advance and to never stop learning about what I’m invested in. That mindset carries over to EMS and its importance in community awareness. When emergency providers are able to educate and care for members of their community, those small moments can help individuals improve their personal health. Continue to progress as an EMS provider, improving the lives of those around you, and that definition of success will grow in your community, one patient at a time.”

Liz Hill, Acadian Ambulance EMT

“Our medics are constantly involved in the hardest moments of life. In those moments, they have the opportunity to bring relief and comfort to painful situations, and every day, that’s exactly what they do. ”

Lauren Anzalone Ramos, Acadian Ambulance High School Outreach Coordinator

How Acadian Ambulance Celebrates EMS Week

We will be spotlighting our medics on social media and honoring EMS professionals across the nation.

The Louisiana Bureau of EMS has launched a White Ribbon Campaign to coincide with EMS Week. We will help promote the campaign and encourage all Acadian employees to participate. The campaign calls for people to place a white ribbon on their mailbox, front door, vehicle window or anywhere visible to show support of EMS professionals.

The Bureau of EMS has also developed yard signs featuring a “Healthcare Hero Lives Here” that we will be distributing among our medic staff.

Video: The New Pandemic Threat

The new pandemic threat: People may die because they’re not calling 911

American Heart Association: If you or a loved one experiences heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately. It’s your best chance of surviving or saving a life.

 

Spotlight: Eric Chase, Pafford EMS

Eric Chase
Paramedic & Field Training Officer
Pafford EMS
Bethany, Oklahoma

Other Titles & Roles

Member, American Ambulance Association Education Committee

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Warren, PA. I had three brothers and we were all very active in sports, theater and community activities. We had family vacations that allowed us to explore the history and splendor of the US. Growing up, I believe we learned the value of diversity and the importance of acceptance of those different than us. We had several students from abroad stay with us for over 6 months each as well as youth sports teams that would travel in town from various states. We also would travel and stay at the homes of people we did not know for high school events that lasted more than two days. I grew up surrounded by people that treated individuals well. We were taught to believe we were not better than others.

Your history with EMS

I have been involved in EMS since 2005 when I took my EMT course. I matriculated to Paramedic in 2008-2009. I have held positions as EMT, EMT-IV, Paramedic, Fire Paramedic, Flight Paramedic, Field Training, Training Officer and Clinical Services Manager. I had been in law enforcement from 1991 till 2003. It was a dark time in my life and I needed to make changes in my life in order to be more positive and love life again. I learned the importance of Resilience and Redemption in life.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy sharing my story with students and co-workers and being a resource or conduit to resources for education, mental health and more. I always am learning new things and I have an understanding that I don’t know what I don’t know. I try to be very positive despite the times when circumstances could be negative or difficult to navigate.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

I feel that my biggest professional challenge is to stay positive in an environment that is often a dog-eat-dog environment. I like having opportunities to be involved and don’t expect to receive anything from helping people or the organizations for which I work.

What is your typical day like?

When not on shift, I can be busy with our two grandchildren, John Ross and Sophia or our two Rescue dogs, Elsa and Bianka, also, I love spending time with my wife. We often do runs that benefit different charities. I sing in my church ensemble at times. I am the founder of When Failure Isn’t an option- Finding your Joy, which is a social media website that shares stories of hope, research and lets people know they are not alone. I share resources and organizations that can possibly be of assistance to people in the public safety community. I also founded http://www.emsimprov.com which is a website and a social media page emsimprov.com I found that Improv has helped me with social anxiety and depression. I have researched and taken several psychology courses and have found that the cognitive behavioral benefits of Improv are amazing. We know that increased collaboration, improved communication benefit individuals. I also have found that it improves my interactions with patients, co-workers, ER staff and with family. This is key to Resilience- It can improve workplace dynamics and overall happiness.

What are your predictions for EMS 10 years from now?

I believe that in about 10 years, EMS will be a field of Paramedic Practitioners and that the required education minimums and practical hours with physicians and or mid-level providers will increase. With new reimbursement and transport options coming soon I believe we are moving closer to a better and potentially less expensive healthcare model. I hope that we move away from the department of transportation and to an organization specifically dedicated to emergency medicine or at the very least healthcare as the primary mission.

What advice would you give to someone new to EMS?

I would say please stay humble and remember that you must take care of yourself both physically and mentally before you truly can help others. Please don’t stop learning because medicine is constantly changing and with evidence based medicine- change will be inevitable. We need to be flexible.

Spotlight: Desiree Partain, Medstar Mobile Healthcare

Desiree Partain
Mobile Integrated Healthcare Manager
Medstar Mobile Healthcare
Fort Worth, Texas

Other Titles & Roles

MIH Manager at Large, IBSC, NAEMT member

Tell us a little about yourself.

Born and raised in sunny San Diego, California. I have a military ( marine grandfather and navy grandfather, brother, and nephew) and first responder (law enforcement mother) family background. Days were spent in the water, whether it was our backyard pool or the beach. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me at a young age that began as the neighborhood babysitter, to various positions at assisted living facilities and finally in EMS. I learned to take pride in the things I had and my work, whether it was completing a household chore, a writing assignment at school, or the vehicles I owned.

Your history with EMS

My mother was a police officer in the town I was raised in so the police and fire department was often my home away from home. I can remember being so fascinated with the ambulance and in admiration of the paramedics when I would go to visit. I told my parents when I was little that when I grew up, I would become a paramedic. After graduating high school, I began the series of classes to obtain my EMT. When 9/11 occurred, I remember sitting in my advanced first responder class that day and knowing that I had made the best decision to be apart of the first responder industry. I got EMT certification in 2002 and my first EMS job that same year. I began the paramedic academy in 2005 where I was the academy leader and valedictorian. I received my paramedic certification and began working on the ambulance in 2006. I was also working for an air ambulance company and an adjunct instructor. In 2009, I moved to Fort Worth, Texas to gain further experience on the ambulance. I took a critical care course in 2010 and began working as a critical care/mobile health paramedic in 2011. I obtained my Bachelors in Health and Human Services in 2013 and began a quality assurance/training coordinator position specific for mobile integrated healthcare in 2014. In 2015 I began working as the MIH Manager where I obtain my CCP-C and CP-C certification and completed my Masters in Healthcare Administration in 2018.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love people and being able to help someone who may be having one of the worst days of their life. I view my position in EMS as more of an opportunity to be a life changer than a life saver. Being in management, my position is to lead other life changers. On the mobile integrated healthcare and critical care side, I love being a part of the innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s great to be able to come to work and be in an environment that embraces change rather than the status quo of “we’ve always done it that way” type of thinking.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Staying current. EMS and healthcare is in a constant state of change and with those changes comes new processes, protocols, and general information that need to be learned. Remaining current with the changes on top of daily responsibilities can be a challenging balancing act.

What is your typical day like?

Working in the administrative side of EMS, a typical day often involves multiple meetings either on or off site. I generally allow myself some time in the morning to go over my tasks for the day, read, and respond to emails. In between meetings, I will work on projects and to-do’s and filter questions or issues with team members. The end of the day is spent reviewing meeting notes, action items and my plan for the following day.

What are your predictions for EMS 10 years from now?

My vision for EMS 10 years from now is an industry that is even more integrated with the overall healthcare system. The use of systems to further enhance efficiency and communication in the emergency and non-emergency settings. Integrated care that starts at the time of the 9-1-1 call with the most appropriate resource deployment, on-scene management whether its offering care without transport or transport to a healthcare facility aside from an emergency room.

What advice would you give to someone new to EMS?

Take pride in what you do in this industry from your uniform appearance, to your ambulance, to the patients you serve, and to yourself. Take care of you first by practicing self care and finding a healthy balance between your personal and professional life. Create professional goals for yourself whether its through education, positions, or organizations and hold yourself accountable to accomplish those goals.

Wisconsin Office of Rural Health Interview

In honor of today’s National Rural Health Day, the American Ambulance Association interviewed John Eich, Director of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health.

The transcript below was lightly edited for clarity.

Amanda Riordan: Thank you for joining us today. My name is Amanda Riordan, and I am the vice president of member services for the American Ambulance Association. I’m also the administrator for the Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to interview John Eich, the director of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health. John is an exceptional contributor to rural health in Wisconsin. He’s also a sterling advocate for the power of EMS to assist with public health in the least accessible areas of Wisconsin. I’ll ask John a couple of questions today about the recent Rural EMS Listening Sessions that he conducted in a number of areas across the state. John, thanks again for joining us. Would you mind telling me a little bit about your background and how you became the director of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health?

John Eich: I appreciate your inviting me to talk about some of our programs, so thank you. I took a bit of a wandering path: I’ve done everything from carpentry and marketing to social work with homeless teens. I found my way to community [service] down in southern New Mexico. I caught the bug there working on behalf of the community and society at large. When I moved back home up to Wisconsin—I grew up in a rural area here in southern Wisconsin—I saw an opening and at the Office of Rural Health. I’ve been on board ever since, and it’s a lot of fun.

Amanda Riordan: Thanks so much. And we’re so glad you took the position. Would you mind sharing a little bit about why EMS is so important to rural health?

John Eich: If you’re not familiar with an office of rural health, we receive mostly federal funding to work on the state level. There’s an office in every state in the nation. Here in Wisconsin, we are funded mostly, I would say, to work with rural hospitals and EMS, and we find that EMS is one of the areas of greatest need. Every piece of the healthcare delivery system has its challenges and its strengths. EMS, I think by the nature of having formed itself—at least rural EMS formed itself—around the model of volunteer services. In my estimation, it has sort of painted itself into a corner. It started when medicine was not as complicated, and when populations, were not expecting as much. You were helping out your neighbors by getting somebody to a hospital. It has since evolved in a good way.

[EMS has] evolved into a healthcare profession. And so there are a lot more demands. There’s a lot more education; continuing education, learning new techniques that are lifesaving. Society depends on it. But that means that these volunteer services that started off small are under increasing pressure. That’s why we are trying to dedicate as many of our resources as we can to helping out that system within Wisconsin, and it’s paying great dividends. We’ve always really enjoyed our interactions with EMS. I think it takes a particular kind of person to do it. We just really enjoy our time with those who do the work. That led us to doing what we’re calling a “Rural EMS Listening Session.” So we did five of these sessions around the state in rural areas, and we intend to do a few more.

Part of the idea was that so often policy in general happens in urban centers. In EMS policy, because the state capital is down in the very southern part of the state and Milwaukee, the largest city is also down in the southern part of the state, the rural areas of the state (which most of the rest of it) tend to feel ignored or unheard. It’s much harder for them to participate. So if somebody has to drive five hours to go to a meeting that would take [a city resident] 15 minutes to drive to, that’s a disparity in access and it’s a disparity in having your voice heard. So we decided that it was important to go listening where rural EMS is practicing. So we did that, and are continuing to do so.

It’s been very eye opening. Obviously there was a lot that we expected to hear that we did hear. I mean, there’s, there’s not a lot new here. People in EMS know what the issue is as someone said these are the same ideas we’ve been talking about for the last 20 years or more. And that’s very true. We like to believe that it’s time for things to change. We’ve been talking about this long enough. Maybe we should do our best to push the issues forward. And that’s phase two of these listening sessions: take what we heard and get it into the hands of advocates, like the EMS associations, fire associations, et cetera, and other advocates like the Office of Rural Health that try to speak on behalf of the needs of EMS. I do think I’m optimistic that legislators want to help. When they’ve been presented with bills, they’re interested. Money is always an issue, but I would say that they definitely want to be part of a solution. So, it’s all of our jobs to make sure that they have the right solutions and presented to them.

Amanda Riordan: I think that’s a great segue to one of your other very popular innovative programs in Wisconsin. The Office of Rural Health actually helped put together the EMS at the Capital Day event in 2017. Would you mind telling us a little bit more about what that entailed and the groups that participated?

John Eich: Absolutely. So again, as we work with all parts of the healthcare delivery system, we work with hospitals and clinics and providers; physicians, PAs/physician assistants, nurse practitioners, the nurses that staff the hospitals and clinics and home health services. When we look at EMS, it always strikes me how it has a level of splintering that I don’t see in other professions. In other professions, they’ve managed to sort of circle the wagons and get on the same page and present a united face to push forward their vision and their legislative goals. EMS, for whatever reason. I’m not sure why it seems to have done the work but also, identified a number of differences. You can be a paid or career staffer versus a volunteer. You can work in a rural service versus an urban. You can be in fire versus EMS. You could be a Paramedic or you could be a Basic EMT or an Emergency Medical Responder. Each of those areas, each of those groups, sort of huddle and identify amongst themselves. I would like to see them working more cohesively together and I’m sure they would as well.

The effort that that led to an EMS Day at the Capital was to try and get all of the disparate groups together and on the same page. All of them had been working very diligently on the issues that were important to them, and I think there is a lot of overlap. As one of the participants said, “We can agree on a 80 percent of the issues, we may disagree about the 20 percent, but let’s work on the 80 percent and when we get that done, then we can disagree about the rest of them.”

So that was the goal that brought the groups together. So we were lucky to be able to get the two EMS associations in the state, the state fire chiefs, and the professional firefighters. The state EMS board joined in with us as well as they could, in more of a listening capacity. We created a wish list of legislative issues and a lot of it was centered around education: who we are and what we do. And we took that to the state capital. We had tremendous turnout and we had uniforms marching through the, through the offices of the legislature both in the Assembly and the Senate. I like to think we got their attention and we plan to, as I said, take what we’re learning from this rural EMS tour, connect with our urban allies as well, and get EMS advocacy on the same page so that they can do tremendous work together.

Amanda Riordan: It was truly exciting and a privilege to witness everything that happened in November 2017 when the Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin EMS Association, all came together with the help of your office, the Office of Rural Health, to speak with one voice when meeting with state legislators. I think that by working together they were able to present such an incredibly compelling message to legislators and to key staff that worked with legislators. I think a lot of times people are somewhat unaware that winning over the hearts and minds of critical legislative staff is almost as important as running to over the hearts and minds of legislators themselves.

With that in mind, and with all of the successes you’ve had helping execute your vision of moving EMS and rural health forward in Wisconsin, would you mind telling us a little bit about where you see the future of rural health going in your state, Wisconsin, as well as the country in general?

John Eich: I take it you mean in EMS terms. Because there’s a lot going on in healthcare, as you know! As far as EMS goes, I think the future of EMS care is not a wholly volunteer model. I think it is at least a hybrid model, and I think the industry needs to figure out how to make that transition. I think that’s going to be a difficult and painful transition. I think it’s going to take a lot of education to the local politicians who are used to having their services and frankly to be getting a pretty good deal.

We talked recently to a small community. It was a countywide meeting, but it was held in a small community that had been [served by] a volunteer service. They said they had a core group of about five people. The chief of the service had had volunteered 4,280 hours last year. The rest of his staff [had volunteered] around the 3000-hour level. They were proud of that, understandably. They were also somewhat reluctant to consider another model in their mind. They felt that they were just fine. When I look at that from the outside, I think, “What if one of you tears an ACL as you’re getting off the ambulance rig, what if two of you get the flu really bad? Which happens!” [What happens if] then there are two calls for EMS, at the same time, while two of your staff are bedridden. That’s three people to make all those calls. I struggle with the vision of that is as sustainable.

But when the local community looked at the numbers, they said, well, it looks like as far as the taxes go, that’s about $12 per capita. I was a little horrified, and asked “is that per year?” And they said, “Oh yeah, yeah, that’s per year.” I was struck by the fact that I pay more for Netflix per month than these folks pay per year to have two highly trained individuals show up with the latest technology to save the lives of their loved ones. I’m not criticizing that, but I do think there’s an opportunity there to really examine that in the daylight. And certainly when the board realized that and looked at it, there was a lot of sort of a flurry of questions back and forth. And is this true? On and on.

I think the nature [of the matter is that] if you can possibly put the question to a citizen in a grocery store as they’re walking out with their groceries, “How much would you pay per year in your taxes to have this kind of lifesaving service?” I don’t think the answer would be $12 a year. I think it would be more, but I don’t think most citizens or politicians have been given the opportunity to really look at. I think they assume it’s already paid for. It’s part of their taxes. I think they assume that Paramedics just show up at their door. They don’t necessarily know the difference between a Paramedic and a Basic EMT or EMR. They have a great deal of faith and trust in these people, as they should. I think they’re just not aware—they’re not aware of the challenges and the lack of funding and the way the system is sort of precariously balanced on top of volunteer hours to an incredible amount. I think the future in my mind, if you look at the data and volunteerism trending down, it’s trending down across all sectors, but that is hitting EMS very hard.

If you look at staffing, we’re seeing with low unemployment that means that it’s harder and harder to fill positions. That especially happens in rural areas. People are moving to urban areas for jobs. There’s not as many people there. If they do still live in the rural area, they tend to work in a neighboring larger town or other towns, so it’s harder for them to volunteer. So I just think the data is pretty clear where we’re headed. We just culturally have to try and do some heavy lifting and change the perceptions of what a society should pay for. As Dana Sechler from the Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin often says, we pay for garbage collection at $138, the median per capita cost per year. Like I said, some [areas are paying just] $12 per year for EMS. Garbage is very important. I don’t mean to dismiss it, but I think we can do better for lifesavers. I see that as the primary issue.

Garbage is very important. I don’t mean to dismiss it, but I think we can do better for lifesavers. I see that as kind of the primary issue. I think another issue is certainly something we’re hearing that is in rural areas, you have a lot of Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs). They’re taking a class that is 80 hours [in duration] because they want to help their neighbors. They’re not transporting— they are showing up to be of help. But they’re taking the National Registry tests in Wisconsin, and the National Registry tests, for a lot of good reasons, is lifting the industry into a level of professionalism and knowledge that is important and necessary. But I think that certainly what we heard is that an EMR is sort of an entry level to this.

So how can we figure out a way to lower the barriers to participation, without lowering the standards of care? That’s something we need to look at. And I think frankly, as a nation, we need to look at that and have that conversation with the National Registry. I think they’re doing the work that they do, and, and in a lot of ways it’s good work, but I think they need to have feedback from their customers and all of us states are their customers. All of us need to maintain a dialogue with them and say, this is what we need. We may need critical thinking in our clinicians, but do we need it in our technicians? Do we need it in our EMRs? [For EMRs] do we need sort of tricky questions that two of them are correct and you have to sort of guess which correct answer you wanted to give? I think it’s that sort of stuff that demoralizes local people who may not be eager to take a test in the first place and are a little put off by a computerized test in the second place. Then if they don’t pass, they go right back home to their church, their gas station, and their bar and tell everybody how this impossible test is not worth their time. I’m not against the National Registry tests, but I do think that we need to have more conversation about it and we need to find ways to lower the barriers and maybe that’s preparing EMRs in a different way.

I’ve got a daughter who is preparing for the ACT [college entrance test], and she’s learning the tips and tricks. She’s in a class just to help her take that test, and a lot of it’s not even about the content. Maybe since the National Registry is modeled on these other types of tests we need to train more on not necessarily the skill levels of how to save someone’s life, but how to take a test, which seems a little weird. But if that is our standard, then we need to make sure that our people are prepared when they walk into that room.

Amanda Riordan: That makes a lot of sense. Certainly we hear feedback in both directions from a variety of different stakeholders regarding the increasing professionalization of EMS. On one end, of course, we want to honor and maintain the contributions of those mission critical volunteer providers, particularly in rural areas, and on the other hand we have the push-pull of a Paramedic, in particular, looking for additional certifications and additional recognition of mobile health care as a profession. All of that mixed together with a flat or diminishing reimbursement makes sustaining a mobile healthcare/EMS in all areas really challenging. But of course as you so aptly pointed out, it especially impactful areas of our country and in a state like Wisconsin where you have so much land mass that is in rural areas. [These issues] particularly impact states of that nature is as they look forward to an aging population and the movement of younger people into urban areas. So truly appreciate those insights and those suggestions. And it’s certainly something that I’m sure there will be continued dialogue about for years to come.

John Eich: And I would like to say that I see a real difference between a Paramedic—or in Wisconsin, we also have the Advanced EMT classification—where we are expecting them to have a body of knowledge and to be healthcare clinicians, to be making life or death decisions in the field. Absolutely. Everyone in society wants those people to be the best-trained, the most knowledgeable, at the top of their game. And the tests should reflect that. I do think that if we have someone who is a firefighter who’s driving out to a site to assist, that’s not the same as a Paramedic and I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be trained and there shouldn’t be a gates for them to go through. We need to be sure that they are trained to the best of their scope and to the best of their ability. But I think it’s a different level of care is a different kind of professionalism. So I think we just need to really make sure that we’re doing a service to the rural areas where they are scraping together five people to cover a very large area and they just don’t have time for the level of nuance that you will often see in an urban, metro area where you’ve got, um, you’ve got enough staff to cover these sort of things,

Amanda Riordan: Makes complete sense and certainly something that we know so many communities are wrestling with right now. I thank you for bringing it to everyone’s attention. I think that we will get some lively dialogue in the comments when we get this posted about, as you pointed out, the diminishing volunteerism as well as the other pressures facing most mobile healthcare these days. Before we wrap up here, would you mind giving us some tips or thoughts about how EMS providers, mobile healthcare providers, in Wisconsin can work best with your office? Or if you have any generalized tips about how ambulance services and fire departments across the country can best work with the Offices of Rural Health in their state, we would be very grateful. Clearly you are moving and shaking in Wisconsin and we’d love to see that ripple out to other states.

John Eich: Absolutely. So, I have counterparts in every state and they’re all doing great work when it comes to rural health and rural EMS. If someone in any state simply goes to Google and, enters their state name and “office of rural health,” they’ll get right to them. I think there is a difference between Offices of Rural Health. Many of us are in state government, and so what you experienced there is common of state government—It’s a more bureaucratic system. The websites tend to be a little bit trickier to find the information because there’s obviously a lot going on there and some political considerations. We [here in Wisconsin] are university-based. There’s about 12 of those around the nation, and three that are nonprofit, so, even leaner and more flexible. So every [office] will look differently.

I do think that EMS should reach out to their Offices of Rural Health to let them know about their needs, because when we look at metrics for healthcare and for population health, we see the metrics getting worse. It’s almost like a horseshoe in that they get worse the more rural and remote you are. Suburban areas have the lowest need, and then the inner city tends to be equally challenging. We share a lot of population health issues with inner cities. The difference I think is really transportation. We’re farther away. And if you don’t have a car, you’re really isolated and stuck, so EMS is mission critical.

If you think about that first hour of care being so important to outcomes, [if sick or injured in a rural area] your first half hour could be without care as people are getting to you and you’re trying to find a cell signal to actually call 911. Once they arrive, your rural EMS providers are the people that are giving you that care. So it is vitally important that those people have the resources to do their job the best that they can.

Please reach out to express your needs. One of the things we’ve been talking about based on this Rural Listening Tour and talking with our state EMS office and the associations just yesterday is the idea of some kind of helpline; Somebody to answer the call when a service is identifying that they are really struggling, because [rural services] are a little nervous about calling the state and saying, “Hey, guess what? Things are really rough here. You might want to shut us down.” Nobody wants that. The state EMS office is very clear that it’s not in anybody’s best interest to remove care and burden neighboring services. So getting a helpline with a number of resources and even someone that can drive out and sit across the table and talk through some issues and get some advice would be very helpful for some of these services that are really struggling. Those are some ways that I think folks can get involved, and I’m always interested in hearing more.

Amanda Riordan: John, thank you so very much for your time and insights today. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you and I’m sure that we’ll be hearing a lot more from the Office of Rural Health, you, and your staff in the years to come. So again, we truly appreciate it and wish you a very happy National Rural Health Day tomorrow, November 15th.

John Eich: Thank you very much, and I look forward to celebrations around the nation.

Spotlight: Gold Cross Ambulance Celebrates 50 Years in Business

Gold Cross Ambulance Celebrates 50th Anniversary!

 

When Gene Moffitt founded Gold Cross Ambulance in March 1968, he didn’t know that 50 years later the company would be where it is today, the longest-running and largest private ambulance service in Utah.

At its core, Gold Cross is a family-run business. In fact, Gold Cross started out of the Moffitts’ home after he rented two Cadillac ambulances. In the beginning, Moffitt and two or three other employees responded to calls from the family home, where his wife, Julia, oversaw dispatch operations while caring for their young children. Julia has been central to the business since the beginning and has played an essential role in Gold Cross’s continued success.

Today Gold Cross employs over 500 people, operates around 140 ambulances, and responds to hundreds of 911 calls a day. Despite this growth, Gold Cross remains a family business with deep roots in the community—something that the Moffitts are very proud of.

Gene Moffitt
Early Days of Gold Cross Ambulance

Moffitt points to a couple of factors that have made Gold Cross’s journey a successful one. First, he’s always had a knack for being in the right places at the right time. But he believes that being honorable to the commitment he has made to provide high-quality healthcare to the people of Utah has been critical to his company’s ongoing success. “Success has not come to Gold Cross without much sacrifice over the years,” Moffitt says. “Growing and expanding has not been an easy process, but with dedication and a bit of luck, Gold Cross has been able to overcome the many trials and tribulations we’ve faced.”

Of course when you’ve been in business for 50 years, you’ll have seen many changes to your industry. Moffitt says one of the biggest changes he’s witnessed has been the buyouts of many ambulance services over the years, and that’s something he believes has been both good and bad for the industry. “When large companies buy out smaller ones,” he explains, “the connection of the ambulance service to the community that there was in the past is lost.” Moffitt notes that Gold Cross has never tried to go into another area unless it has been asked to. “Going into a new area to provide service is a delicate process,” he says. ”You must re-prove yourself to the community while being sensitive to the locals and to employees who may come over from the previous provider.” As a family-run business, nurturing the bond between Gold Cross and the communities it serves has always been very important to the Moffitt family.

Looking back on a more personal level, Moffitt has many memories he is proud of. The other day he came across a photo of one of the first babies that Gold Cross transported by ambulance in 1968 or 1969. Gold Cross worked closely with Dr. Larry Jung, a pioneering neonatologist, to help him provide life-saving care to children in Utah. “I’m in awe of how the medical community has really evolved over the last 50 years to give sick newborns and infants a better chance to live,” Moffitt says, smiling. “The baby in that photo would now be 50 years old!”

Gold Cross was also involved in the first heart transplant that took place in Utah. Gold Cross helped the hospital move the patient back and forth with the tremendous amount of equipment necessary for the procedure. The company also played a large role in the Salt Lake City Olympics back in 2002.

Moffitt also made many lifelong friendships because of his involvement with the AAA, including through  his work as a past President of the association. He notes that the early AAA days were very important to his work at Gold Cross, giving his ambulance service access to resources and information that Gold Cross would not have had on its own. “The AAA helps foster a friendly relationship amongst providers,” he adds, “and members are very willing to share information about best practices and other experiences.”

Moffitt is working on bringing the company’s past and present together very visually, while giving a confident nod to the future. Gold Cross is refurbishing its remaining 1960 Cadillac ambulances and has also purchased a new ambulance to celebrate the 50th anniversary. When the brand-new ambulance is shown off alongside the 1960s ambulance, it will give a clear picture of where Gold Cross has come from and where the company is going.

Gold Cross Restored Cadillac Ambulance
New Gold Cross 50th Anniversary Ambulance

And of course there will be numerous celebrations with staff and family, both of whom have been critical to Gold Cross’s success over the years.

One thing that has stayed exactly the same? Moffitt’s vision for Gold Cross—“to provide quality medical care and customer service to anyone, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or the ability to pay.”

Please join the AAA in congratulating Gene, Julia, the Moffitt family, and Gold Cross Ambulance on 50 years of providing high-quality healthcare to the people of Utah.

Congratulations, and here’s to many more successful years!

Spotlight: Paul Pedersen

Paul Pedersen
Managing Partner
Arizona Ambulance Transport
Alternate Director, AAA, Region V
Sierra Vista, AZ

Tell us a little about yourself.
Born and raised in California. Spent majority of my adult life in Arizona. Love to travel and attend University of Arizona basketball games.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?
In the industry for almost 20 years. Started as a GM with Rural/Metro and later co founded our current business, Arizona Ambulance Transport.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The dedicated people I get to work with and the service we provide to the communities.

What is your biggest professional challenge?
Paying our staff what they’re really worth. With current reimbursements it’s impossible.

What is your typical day like?
Watching over finances and supporting our operations manager.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?
We all need all the help we can get to assure reasonable reimbursements. AAA’s involvement in DC on behalf of all or us is something we certainly couldn’t do by ourselves.

Explore AAA membership, or learn more about our advocacy for ambulance services across the country.

Spotlight: Paul Main

Paul Main
President & General Manager
American Ambulance Visalia
Member, Government Affairs Committee
Winner, 2017 AAA President’s Award
Visalia, CA

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Visalia, Ca. I have been married to Paige for 30 years, and we have three children (Michael, Samantha, Ian). Michael is “special needs” as he was born with a club foot and a rare seizure disorder causing up to 100 seizures per day. I enjoy cooking and being with friends/family.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?
My dad was a firefighter/engineer for the Visalia Fire Department. As kids, my brothers and I couldn’t wait to visit my dad at the stations and climb all over the equipment. Just after high school, my older brother, Tim was working for Exeter District Ambulance. I was working as a pharmacy tech in the local hospital, and Tim would have to restock IV’s and meds from the pharmacy (this was years ago). I was intrigued by his descriptions of calls he responded to. I found myself in an EMT class the next semester, and the rest is history. Tim is now a battalion chief for CalFire (previously a medic for over 25 years), and my younger brother, Jerry, is an RN-MICN for Adventist Medical Center Hanford. He too was a paramedic for over 25 years with AMR and later American Ambulance Kings County.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy helping to improve the EMS system within Tulare County. This is where I started, and I’ve had an opportunity to grow and learn how to create an EMS system in one of the poorest areas in California, if not the US. I get to meet people from all aspects of EMS, health care, FIRE, Law Enforcement, and other ancillary agencies. Working with these folks has created friendships and helped teach me about how we all work toward a common goal of helping the communities we serve.

What is your biggest professional challenge?
The biggest professional challenge is balancing work with life. EMS can consume you, your focus, and energy. It has taken years to learn how not to get caught in the EMS vortex without taking time to refresh with family/friends.

What is your typical day like?
My typical day starts the night before. I usually organize my days (weeks) by creating quick to-do lists with general reminders of what needs to be accomplished. I have learned to start earlier than others, so I’m prepared mentally and day-to-day work/projects are knocked out before meetings or unplanned events derail my plans. I like to wind down in the late afternoon by doing a workout (RIPPED/Body Combat/Extreme Interval/Body Pump). After that, I’m ready for the late evening meetings or to just go home and relax for a few hours.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?
My participation in the AAA Government Affairs Committee has allowed me to become better versed in governmental processes for EMS on a much larger platform than I have ever been in the past. Being a part of this committee has helped open my eyes to the importance for all of us to stay atop issues affecting reimbursement, regulatory policies, and establishing a voice with congressional and senatorial representatives. It has reaffirmed there are many from all sides of the political spectrum that recognize EMS as an essential service for their constituents.

Explore AAA membership, or learn more about our advocacy for ambulance services across the country.

AAA Spotlight: New Britain EMS

New Britain EMS: Energized to Succeed

 

New Britain, Connecticut lies just nine miles southwest of Hartford. Its 73,000 residents and visitors to this region of soft rolling hills and young forests are served by New Britain EMS, one of the first grant-funded emergency medical services organizations in the country. Founded in 1977, the service annually responds to 13,500 9-1-1 requests and transports 11,550 patients.

Emphasis on company culture is a driving force at NBEMS. The core values of Community, Team, Service, Caring, and Excellence are reinforced at every opportunity. Teams work closely and embrace a commitment to personal and group excellence. The office space for medics, a comfortable, open area, fosters collaboration and sharing. Senior staff’s offices are nearby and on-duty leaders are always accessible to the teams.

“Our organizational culture is one where learning is energized at all levels,” explained NBEMS CEO Chief Bruce Baxter, “and employees are taught to focus on the continuous improvement of their skills.”

From the early days of their employment, team members experiment, acquire valuable experience, and grow—both as people and as practitioners. Honest mistakes are not to be feared, provided they are made with a commitment to ongoing personal and professional development. From adopting best practices for medics to the future of mobile integrated health, NBEMS is an ambulance service committed to improving itself, and by extension, the quality of care provided to its patients and the community.

Recognized for its Clinical Quality Improvement Program

NBEMS, for the third year in a row, received the recognition in the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® Program; most recently with the Silver Medal Award. This national recognition is given to services for implementing excellent quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks (STEMI).

QI highlights one of many ways an ambulance service can have a significant impact on community health beyond providing ambulance transports. Lieutenant Pat Ciardullo, head of the NBEMS QI Program, feels strongly that proactively addressing future challenges is the key to continuous advancement.

“While it is important to read run reports and reflect on what transpired in past calls,” Lt. Ciardullo explained, “the benefit of a strenuous QI program is to address issues before they become a problem.”

Quality is evident in the stations and ambulances equipped with the best information systems and medical technology on the market. Lucas CPR devices, EZ-IO drills, and video laryngoscopes are a few examples of investments that have led to optimal patient outcomes and widened the scope of practice for medics in the field.

Care and training for the caregivers

Leadership looks beyond supporting professional expertise to recognizing the needs of team members as holistic people. In the face of a growing national awareness of EMS suicide and depression, Lt. Ciardullo is spearheading the effort to incorporate mental health into QI metrics. Currently studying to become a chaplain, Lt. Ciardullo and the leadership team are researching innovative, evidence-based methods to tackle the issue of post-traumatic stress at work.

Many Paramedics are introduced to NBEMS long before their first shift on a blue and white ambulance. Expert NBEMS faculty teaches at the New Britain EMS Training Academy, which educates paramedics bound for service in New Britain and other nearby communities. The Academy helps services to weather the EMS recruitment and retention crisis, providing educational services and support to the greater New Britain community, healthcare providers, and general business and industry.

When hiring new employees, NBEMS emphasizes finding the right candidate, one able to fit into this distinct organizational culture. New-hires complete a three-phase, 12-week training program with Field Training Officers [FTOs] before assignment to a specific crew and then release to work on their own. Both Chief Baxter and Lt. Ciardullo highlight how important it is to impart early on NBEMS culture and procedures to a new employee and FTOs are vital to this education. This combination of great training, a solid hiring process, and a strong organizational culture has raised the average tenure of a fulltime NBEMS employee to 7.5 years and more than ten years for senior leadership.

Proud member of the American Ambulance Association for 20 years

“The AAA is our silent partner,” said Chief Baxter, “and an important contributor to our success. The AAA Employee Assistance Program (EAP), group purchasing programs, and access to expert consultants have saved us thousands every year.”

NBEMS actively participates in AAA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the ambulance industry as a whole, including key reimbursement legislation to ensure sustainable funding for the smaller EMS services—like New Britain—that are so critical to their communities. Chief Baxter explains that the AAA’s efforts to re-categorize ambulance services from suppliers of a service to providers of healthcare under Medicare would allow services like New Britain to be reimbursed more fairly.

Chief Baxter also appreciates AAA educational opportunities, which allow the NBEMS team to gain knowledge and skills from, as well as to share ideas with, fellow forward-thinking ambulance services from across the country.

Spotlight: Barbara Bachman, Emergent Health Partners

barbara-bachman-emergent-health-partnersBarbara Bachman
Chief Financial Officer, Emergent Health Partners
Alternate Director, AAA Board
Ann Arbor, MI

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The year I graduated from high school my parents relocated to North Carolina, so I have family in both places. I am married and have four grown children, two son-in-laws, and one granddaughter. I love to bake, and Christmas is my most favorite time of year. I make about 30 different kinds of cookies which I share with my employees.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

I was in public accounting for over 20 years with a large regional firm and a Big 5 firm. I then moved on to be the controller at a company that managed about 30 physician clinics in the Flint, Michigan area. From there I went to a non-profit organization that was grant-funded by the state of Michigan. They offered workforce development and online courses for high school students. They were losing their funding so I applied for a job with Huron Valley Ambulance ( in 2004 and was selected to become the CFO.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the variety of challenges the job presents as I oversee finance, patient billing, IT, internal and external education, human resources, and our electronic charting software.

barbara-bachman-familyWhat is your biggest professional challenge?

My biggest professional challenge early on was gaining an understanding of the business. I actually sat through an EMT course and did several third rides including staying for full 24 hour shifts. Currently our biggest challenge is find qualified trained staff.

What is your typical day like?

Extremely busy with a multitude of meetings, questions from staff and managers, employee issues, and making sure everything is completed in a correct and timely manner.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?

Prior to being on the Board, I was on the Medicare Regulatory Committee which helps keep our organization informed about the latest happenings in reimbursement.

Spotlight: Fred Della Valle, AMR

fred-dellavalle-3Fred Della Valle
Vice President Government Relations, American Medical Response (AMR)
AAA Board, Alternate Director Region 1
New Haven, CT

Tell us a little about yourself, please.

Grew up and still live in the state of Connecticut. Married for more than 40 years. My wife, JoAnn, and I have two grown boys, a 3 month old grandson and a 2 year old beagle. I enjoy both saltwater and freshwater fishing, golf, and traveling.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

I became an EMT in 1976 working for New Haven Ambulance Service, one of the first four founding companies of American Medical Response. Over the years I have served in various capacities including operations, communications, public relations, business development, and government relations.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy most interacting with colleagues in EMS and other public safety agencies, and sharing best practices and new ideas. In my government relations role, the interaction with local, state, and federal legislators and regulators is always both a challenge and opportunity to educate those who oversee our regulatory and payment strategies.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Certainly the greatest challenge has been, and continues to be, the reimbursement efforts in Congress as well as the recognition of the key role ambulance providers play throughout our nation.

What is an example of one of your strengths?

I pride myself in maintaining good communications with all those I come in contact with. Whether internally at AMR, through my AAA responsibilities, or with our legislators, regulators, committee members, and all those wishing to communicate about the service we provide.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?

I believe our membership in the AAA has been advantageous to both AMR and the AAA. Speaking in one unified voice on Capitol Hill always sends a message to those who have the responsibility of making decisions based on information for the good of all Americans. AMR also lends the credibility and success in EMS to the AAA issues we discuss every day in Washington.