Tag: Best Community Impact

2016 AMBY Best Community Impact Program: Medic Ambulance, Reduced Readmissions Project

Congratulations to the 2016 AMBY Award Winners

Each year, the American Ambulance Association honors best practices, ingenuity, and innovation from EMS providers across the country with our AMBY Awards. 

Medic Ambulance Reduced Readmissions Project Awarded a 2016 AMBY for Best Community Impact Program

Medic Ambulance | California

amby-congrats-medic-ambulanceMedic Ambulance Service is the exclusive ALS service provider in Solano County, a HRSA-designated medically underserved area with a physician-provider to population ratio of 81.1 per 100,000. In 2014 Medic Ambulance became aware of an opportunity to participate in a Community Paramedicine Pilot initiated through California Ste EMSA. After collaborating with LEMSA and the community hospitals, Medic Ambulance unanimously concluded that the 23% average readmission rates for each CHF and COPD patients was taking a crippling toll on the hospitals’ reimbursement and increasing Emergency Department wait times. Starting in January of 2015, Medic Ambulance Service enrolled six paramedics into approximately 300 hours of additional training focused on the biopsychosocial needs of patients with CHF or COPD. The education has continued through monthly case reviews and peer-to-peer lessons-learned where the entire team brainstorms innovative solutions to the patients’ challenges. From the beginning, Medic Ambulance Service was poised on creating a sustainable model that would persevere past the period of being a pilot or grant funding. They made this goal of preservation well-known to all stakeholders, and after quickly proving the value through low readmission rates they had established a sustainable funding source, happy to pay for Community Paramedicine Services.

Project Goals

  1. Reduce the readmission rates of patients with CHF or COPD.
  2. To create a sustainably funded model to ensure the project remains available to our community and is replicable in other areas.
  3. Provide superior customer service.
  4. Teach patients how to improve their health by appealing to the patient’s values.
  5. To provide these services at a lower cost than was otherwise available.

Project Phases

  • Planning Phase: The project was planned based upon the results of the community needs assessment. The findings indicated that there is a substantial difficulty within the community to access restorative medical aid. Each Community Paramedic underwent over 300 hours of focused training on the management of CHF and COPD, cultural sensitivity, and rehabilitative services.
  • Implementation Phase: To ensure compliance with the strictest regard for patient outcomes and program oversight Medic’s Community Paramedicine Program is IRB approved, reports at least monthly to a Steering Committee with diverse medical and nonmedical expertise, 100% charting review by a Registered Nurse, and utilization of, EMS Survey Team, a third-party patient surveyor. These highly trained Community Paramedics began seeing patients in September of 2015 and the most common question we are asked by the local hospitals is when can we help them lower their readmission rates for patients that don’t have CHF or COPD. With a sustainable and reproducible model we intend to keep filling healthcare gaps and mold healthcare delivery to suit the needs of every community we serve!

Our goals with this project are built upon the IHI Triple AIM to improve the patient experience of care, improve the health of populations, and reduce the per capita cost of health care. We are absolutely meeting these foundational goals!

  • 85 patients have been referred to the program (59 enrolled)
  • 118 visits have been completed

Medic Ambulance measures and objectives reveal that the enrolled population has only a 8.5% unplanned readmission rate; as opposed to a 23% rate of those not enrolled. During home visits it was discovered that:

  • 50.8% of patients had medication errors
  • 48.7% of the patients that thought they were taking all their medications correctly weren’t
  • 72.9% of patients needed help understanding their discharge instructions.

These enrolled patients also self identify an average overall health rating improvement of 22.8% between their pre-enrollment and post -enrollment health. During this same interval the patients’ understanding of their hospital discharge instructions has risen by 16.8%, understanding of when to take medications improved 8.3%, and understanding of their medication side effects improved by 14.1%.

EMS Survey Team, a third party patient surveyor, attempts phone contact with all enrolled patients. These scores are recorded and measured against the 128 different EMS services they contract with. This program is the #1 rated provider with a total score of 96.48/100 and 100% of all responses have been positive.

Patient Feedback

“It’s been a very good experience. She (the Community Paramedic) explained everything so I could understand.” – Patient

“There’s a lot of people out there who need this, especially those without insurance.” – Patient

“My blood pressure started going up and it wouldn’t come down. I had medication but it wasn’t helping.” – Patient who was not taking her medication at the correct frequency.

“She (a patient) feels more comfortable.” – Patient’s daughter “This is a pilot program but everyone so far is very pleased with how it is working.” – Director of case management at a referring hospital. “If I get sick I know they’re gonna be there for me and that I’m not alone.” – Patient

As a third generational, family-owned EMS provider, nothing is more important to us than the community we serve as the exclusive ALS provider. The creation of this program wasn’t created as merely a proof of concept, we continue to grow and adapt this program to meet the needs of the populations through changing the landscape of health care. The impact of this program’s success has been marked with already saving the health care system $137,000 with a projected savings of $685,000 by the end of 2017, improved health literacy in vulnerable populations, reducing overuse on the 9-1-1 and Emergency Department systems, and catalyzing positive health changes through empowerment. It is projected that over 25% of the patients enrolled into this program have a functional health literacy defined as “below basic”, the lowest possible category per the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, compared to 14% of American adults that fall into this category. At this level of health literacy the dates of appointments and clearly defined times to take medications are often understood, but the understanding of how negative lifestyle choices, such as smoking, poor diet, and recreational drug use affect their management of diseases is not universally comprehended.

Congratulations to Medic Ambulance for the Reduced Readmissions Project’s selection as a 2016 AMBY Winner for Best Community Impact Program.


2016 AMBY Best Public Relations Campaign: EMSA, CPR Education Program

Congratulations to the 2016 AMBY Award Winners

Each year, the American Ambulance Association honors best practices, ingenuity, and innovation from EMS providers across the country with our AMBY Awards. 

EMSA CPR Education Program Awarded a 2016 AMBY for Best Public Relations Campaign

Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) | Tulsa, Oklahoma

amby-congrats-emsaEMSA, the Emergency Medical Services Authority, is Oklahoma’s largest provider of pre-hospital emergency medical care. We provide ambulance service to more than 1.1 million residents in central and northeast Oklahoma. EMSA was established in Tulsa in 1977 and later expanded to include Bixby, Jenks and Sand Springs. EMSA began providing service to Oklahoma City in 1990. EMSA is the ambulance provider in 16 cities across the state. As a public trust authority of the City of Tulsa and City of Oklahoma City governments, EMSA is charged with ensuring the highest quality of emergency medical service at the best possible price. There are several entities that work together in the EMSA system, including the Cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the medical director, and the contracted ambulance provider. EMSA oversees all business aspects including ambulances and other capital equipment, maintaining patient records, billing and more. The medical director conducts routine audits and testing of all medics practicing in the system, writes seamless protocols to ensure the continuity of care between first responders and transport medics, researches new treatment modalities and evaluates complaints. EMSA is committed to training and building awareness about CPR in EMSA’s 16 service areas. The program includes a variety of year-round opportunities to learn Hands-Only CPR(TM), as well as leveraging various opportunities to promote CPR education through traditional earned media, digital advertising, and social media. Also, EMSA medics were part of a national challenge to train as many local citizens as possible in Hands-Only CPR, called World CPR Day.

The CPR Education Program had one ultimate goal which was to increase the number of Oklahoma citizens who can effectively do CPR statewide (mostly Hands-Only CPR). The secondary goal was to connect the message of health care expertise and community involvement with EMSA, as an organization, by providing non-emergency interactions with EMSA medics and promoting CPR-related stories in earned media and digital platforms. Two measurable objectives were identified for the CPR Education Program.

Primary Objective

The first objective was to train more than 2,000 Oklahomans on how to conduct Hands-Only CPR on World CPR Day and 10,000 at the Tulsa State Fair and Oklahoma City State Fair. The second specific objective was to utilize earned media, social media, events and public figures to educate the community that EMSA is their CPR resource for training.

For many years EMSA, along with its 16 partnering first-responder agencies, achieved a heart attack survival rate six times higher than the national average. Recognizing that bystander response times were integrated into this health outcome, EMSA noted an opportunity to magnify and improve these successful numbers. The heart attack survival rate results are based on patients in cardiac arrest who received some form of bystander CPR and were found in a shockable rhythm (an ECG rhythm that is treatable using defibrillation) on first EMS contact.

Secondary Objective

The American Heart Association Research The American Heart Association conducts numerous studies on the impact of bystander CPR. These studies prove that during cardiac arrest a person’s survival chance increases significantly with immediate CPR, that CPR can be taught in a very short amount of time, and that compression-only CPR is effective for saving lives. When paramedics arrive on-scene, a patient who is in cardiac arrest and is found in a shockable rhythm (an ECG rhythm that is treatable using defibrillation) is more likely to survive if they receive some form of bystander CPR. The impact of bystander CPR has improved significantly in the past decade. In 2010, the AMR bystander CPR rate was 21.4 percent and in 2014 it increased to 40.8 percent.

Every five years, EMSA conducts a citizen survey to review the perception of services. The most recent report (2012) shows 80 percent of people who use EMSA have a positive impression. Additionally, the public responds extremely favorably to medics and paramedics; however, most people don’t meet a medic until they’re experiencing a medical emergency. Utilizing this information EMSA expanded its public events to put medics in front of potential patients more regularly — before they experience an emergency. Although the CPR Campaign primarily focuses on health-outcomes related to cardiac arrest, a secondary benefit is providing one-on-one opportunities for the general public to spend with EMSA medics, allowing those without ambulance-experience to see first-hand the caring and compassionate men and women who work at EMSA.

In order to build community awareness around the health impact of knowing CPR, EMSA focused on two general audiences: the first included citizens of EMSA’s service area without Hands-Only CPR training, the second group was the opinion leaders. The opinion leaders with the highest stakes for improving health outcomes on a statewide basis were determined to be elected officials.

EMSA has conducted CPR training throughout the community for decades. EMSA also partners with other CPR-certification agencies to increase access to CPR education. For the past three years, EMSA has organized an annual special event to train a large number of citizens in Hands-Only CPR and also communicate the importance of learning CPR. In addition, EMSA provides stand-by ambulances at the Oklahoma State Tulsa State fair annually; during the fair EMSA utilizes an informational booth space to provide citizens with an opportunity to learn CPR.

The CPR Education Program consisted of three key areas. The first was participation in large-scale events that provide an opportunity for training a large number of people (World CPR Day and the two State Fairs). These larger events would be used as a catalyst. The second area was building awareness that EMSA offers CPR training, both Hands-Only and traditional CPR, to the general public within their service area. The final area was recruiting a prominent Oklahoman to participate in a CPR training in order to maximize attention to the importance of CPR training for all individuals. All of the focus areas, and the message that CPR saves lives, were promoted through traditional earned media, advertising, and social engagement.

Large-Scale Training Events

World CPR Day is organized on a national level by AMR and on a local level by EMSA. Each year the EMSA communications team strategically identifies partnership events and organizations to bring Hands-Only CPR in front of Tulsa and Oklahoma City-area citizens. There are many options annually because the wide audience-base includes all individuals in EMSA’s service area without Hands-Only CPR training. EMSA hosted CPR trainings throughout coverage areas utilizing ongoing events at businesses and organizations, such as the business board meetings. Some trainings were private and others were public events. Utilizing earned media and social media, World CPR Day was heavily promoted and resulted in strong participation. Reviewing the World CPR date and community events we noticed the two largest events that could incorporate CPR training were the Big 12 Baseball tournament and the Dallas Cowboys Mobile Museum. These two events were slated to attract large crowds of active Tulsans ideal for learning Hands-Only CPR. EMSA worked alongside the Tulsa Regional Chamber to coordinate a training site at Fan Fest, the fair-like celebration that runs concurrently during the Big 12 Baseball Tournaments. EMSA also had the Dallas Cowboys mobile museum for their evening sessions at LaFortune Park. In addition to the large public trainings, EMSA hosted smaller CPR trainings throughout our coverage areas utilizing ongoing events at area businesses and organizations, such as the Jenks Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting. The largest private training was at Roosevelt Middle School in Oklahoma City where EMSA trained more than 600 students. The Tulsa and Oklahoma City State Fairs provide easy-access to large groups of Oklahoma residents who are eager to learn CPR in order to save a life. Although the location and interaction opportunities are optimal, medics do use key message points, such as “It’s most likely a loved one’s life you’ll save,” to encourage passers-by to participate in the training. Thousands of individuals learned Hands-Only CPR at the state fairs last year. CPR Training Requests EMSA generally receives 30 requests per year to train small groups on how to perform CPR. These are businesses and organizations, as well as teams and non-profits. During the CPR Education Program, EMSA promoted CPR training through all owned mediums including its website and social channels. After promoting World CPR Day and the importance of learning Hands-Only CPR, EMSA inquiries for trainings increased by almost 25 percent. Most of the new requests came from government officials or civic-related organizations, which are targeted groups because their circle of influence is generally larger than other groups.

Training High-Profile Oklahoman in Hands-Only CPR

EMSA individuals researched prominent Oklahomans to find who fit with EMSA’s mission and goals. We needed individuals that would create a buzz online and in traditional media. After considering various famous individuals we determined that elected officials were the most inclined to be concerned with the overall health and well-being of Oklahomans. We set our goals high, and invited the Governor to learn Hands-Only CPR. Additionally, we sent requests to various local elected officials to offer a CPR class during a City Council meeting. We were pleased that Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin, the Tulsa City Council and Oklahoma City Council accepted our invitations, and in three separate events, they learned the steps to save a life through CPR. The events created a stir in local newspapers and TV while also creating engagement online through our EMSA social channels and other digital news sources. Promotion EMSA promoted World CPR Day, CPR trainings, and the elected-officials training events throughout the year. Additionally, EMSA hosted several in-studio CPR demonstrations at Oklahoma City and Tulsa media stations. Another media component was promoting feature stories on patients that survive because of CPR. The final promotional component was a digital ad campaign that are PSAs about the three C’s of CPR: check, call, and compress.

See measurable outcomes below; additionally review work samples to view social media samples, earned media samples and more.

  • Measurable Objective: train 2,000 attendees how to do Hands-Only CPR on World CPR Day. Result: Trained 2,585 people 1,201 in Tulsa and 1,384 in OKC Measureable Objective: train 10,000 attendees how to do Hands-only CPR at the two Oklahoma State Fairs. Result: Trained more than 10,000 people at the Tulsa State and Oklahoma State Fairs.
  • Measurable Objective: Utilize social media to increase awareness of World CPR Day Result: More than 20,000 unique social media impressions for various social media posts promoting and celebrating World CPR Day.
  • Measurable Objective: Utilize earned media, social media and World CPR Day to educate the community that EMSA is their CPR resource for training.
  • Result: Following World CPR Day EMSA was contacted by several community groups wanting EMSA medics to teach Hands-Only CPR at their monthly meetings. Additionally, EMSA gained a lot of media coverage and social media activity due to the high-visibility leadership participating in Hands-Only CPR.

The overall impact of the ongoing EMSA CPR program continues to increase the number of Oklahoma residents who can perform CPR. This ultimately affects improved health outcomes. Additionally, this campaign provides one-on-one time with medics which produces a familiarity with the ambulance authority that will provide long-term mutually beneficial outcomes.

Congratulations to EMSA for the CPR Education Program’s selection as a 2016 AMBY Winner for Best Public Relations Campaign.


2016 AMBY Best Community Impact Program: AMR, River Rescue Program

Congratulations to the 2016 AMBY Award Winners

Each year, the American Ambulance Association honors best practices, ingenuity, and innovation from EMS providers across the country with our AMBY Awards. 

American Medical Response River Rescue Program Awarded a 2016 AMBY for Best Community Impact Program

amby-2016-congrats-amrAMR | Oregon

The Oregon River Safety Program (aka AMR River Rescue Program) is provided by American Medical Response (AMR) as a community service for two communities it serves in Oregon. The program is the only one of its kind exclusively operated by a private EMS provider, supported by strong community partnerships, and was developed after a series of thirteen drowning deaths over five years in the 1990s at two popular river parks. Ten years earlier, AMR developed its Reach and Treat (RAT) Wilderness Medicine Program to provide medical care for people ill or injured on Mount Hood and the surrounding national forest. Since Swift Water Rescue was part of the existing Reach and Treat Teams training and competency, AMR worked with the Troutdale City Council and a group of dedicated civic leaders to launch the River Rescue Program in July, 1999. For the remainder of the summer, AMR used its RAT Team members as Swift Water Rescue Specialists to staff the new River Rescue program.

The program was developed to meet the certification standards of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) for open water lifeguarding, and is staffed by Oregon licensed Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics. To meet USLA requirements, AMR developed an 80-hour training program with core USLA curriculum as well as additional site-specific training. River Rescue Technicians are not the same as pool lifeguards, but instead are highly trained and certified professionals with expertise in lifeguarding, swift water rescue, and medical care. The AMR River Rescue program received USLA Advanced Lifeguard Agency Certification in April 2012. The United States Lifesaving Association is America’s nonprofit professional association of lifeguards and open water rescuers. The USLA works to reduce the incidence of death and injury in the aquatic environment through public education, national lifeguard standards, training programs, promotion of high levels of lifeguard readiness, and other means.

This year marked the 18th season for the program. From 1999 through 2016, the AMR team performed 97 rescues, more than 1,400 assists of people in distress, and dedicated thousands of hours to prevention activity. Based on pre-program statistics, 66 drownings would have occurred over those years without the program. Each year, the team consists of approximately 20 River Rescue Technicians trained in Swift Water Rescue who provide life guard services seven days a week, ten hours a day at Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale, and at High Rocks Park in Gladstone, Oregon from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

AMR’s Oregon River Safety Program has been highly successful in relegating some of the State’s highest drowning sites for recreational waterways to a footnote in history. The Program has increased swimmer safety through public awareness campaigns; prevention interventions, such as life jacket loaner programs; and community and media partnerships. It has also amassed a wealth of data to guide program enhancement which has documented a significant increase in the use of life jackets for all age groups. Lastly, the Program has prevented drowning through direct and often dramatic rescue interventions by AMR technicians.

From its inception, the goal of AMR’s River Rescue Program has been to prevent loss of life due to drowning and to make the locations AMR guards safer. Primary responsibilities of River Rescue Technicians are to provide public education on water safety, raise awareness of the potential hazards of rivers and open bodies of water, promote life jacket use, deter risky behaviors (such as drug/alcohol use and unsafe ways of floating downriver on makeshift “rafts”), and rapidly respond to swimmers in distress. AMR River Rescue has released a new mission statement for 2016: Drowning prevention through education, vigilance and rescue.

AMR River Rescue utilizes a public health model “Spectrum of Prevention” approach to support the goal of drowning prevention by focusing efforts on: individuals, groups, providers, networks, organizations, and public policy makers. Injury prevention efforts are targeted by utilizing the significant amount of data captured by the program each year to help identify trends. AMR River Rescue has also developed strong partnerships with traditional media to further educational goals, allowing them to reach large television/radio audiences with important water safety messages for visitors to Oregon’s rivers, as well as tips and advice to prevent drowning elsewhere, such as in pools and spas, and in and around the home. In addition to onsite, rivers-edge, education and prevention, River Rescue Team members participate in social media and community events to share information on water and pool safety for children and parents.

Planning and implementation of the program has developed over the course of the last eighteen years. In 1999, after 13 people drowned over a five-year period at Glenn Otto Park on the Sandy River in Troutdale, Oregon, AMR worked with local officials and civic leaders to pioneer an on-site river rescue program using EMS personnel trained as lifeguards specializing in swift water rescue. The program was modeled after ten years of success with the Reach and Treat Team developed by AMR in the late 1980s. AMR’s River Rescue program is distinctly different than the Sheriff’s office and fire departments’ water rescue programs. While they cover long stretches of waterways and can only respond after an incident is reported, AMR’s program focuses on the most dangerous river sections that have the highest drowning mortality sites. To protect these areas, public education and risk mitigation were made priorities and coupled with the River Rescue Technicians’ training in Swift Water Rescue to spot trouble and act immediately.

The window to intervene in a developing drowning and save a life is often less than 30 seconds. After several years of program development, the River Rescue Program received certification from the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), which is recognized internationally as the “gold standard” for accreditation.* To meet USLA standards, AMR developed a unique 80 hour training program with a core USLA curriculum with additional swift water and medical training. The program is unique in the U.S. and is the only certified agency that provides lifeguards solely in a swift water environment (versus beaches or lakes).

Because prevention is an important component of the program, a life jacket loaner program was developed, offering free daily use of hundreds of personal flotation devices (sizes from infant to adult) to visitors of the parks. In the summer of 2002, after three people drowned in less than a month at High Rocks Park along the Clackamas River, AMR expanded the program to cover the popular river site. Responsibility for the Clackamas River is vested with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, but the shore is governed by two cities, one on each side of the river. The lack of clear jurisdictional responsibility had caused a stalemate over how to improve safety at High Rocks Park for many years until AMR proposed expanding its River Rescue Program to that site and agreed to accept responsibility. (AMR knows the county well – as they have been the 9-1-1 ambulance provider in Clackamas County for decades). High Rocks Park presents much different challenges than Glenn Otto, with 20-25 foot rock cliffs and formations from which adventurers jump into the cold, fast moving water. Both the Sandy and Clackamas River share origin from Mount Hood glaciers and have swift current, cold water and underwater hazards.

The program also serves as a regional resource for water safety public education, water hazard mitigation, deployable rescue swimmers, as an in-water search resource for recovery of drowning fatalities in other areas of local rivers (upon request from law enforcement) and provide services and support to the Regional Clackamas County Water Safety Consortium.

Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium members include:

  • AMR River Rescue Program
  • Canby Fire District
  • Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol
  • Clackamas County Fire District 1
  • Estacada Fire District
  • Gladstone Fire Department
  • Lake Oswego Fire Department
  • Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue
  • Sandy Fire District Recruitment and Training

To prepare for staffing the river parks by Memorial Day weekend, AMR begins each season by recruiting candidates in February. They must pass a rigorous swim test (covering 500 meters in less than 10 minutes without the assistance of any propulsion devices) in order to continue through the selection and training process. New candidates join returning members in a challenging, eighty-hour course led by veteran River Rescue Technicians and other experts. Training topics include:

  • Swift water Hydrology and Hazards
  • Swift water Rescue Tactics
  • Lifeguarding Tactics
  • Observation and scanning
  • Rescue Scene Management
  • Community Education
  • Rescue kayaks
  • Rescue paddleboards
  • Media Relations
  • Staffing River Parks

Teams of 2-3 River Rescue Technicians are on duty at each site, and are in constant radio communications with each other, AMR’s Communications Center, the 9-1-1 Center and local law enforcement officers. An alert is transmitted any time a River Rescue Specialist enters the water to conduct an assist or rescue, and if not canceled within five minutes, a full EMS response is dispatched. According to the USLA, the most challenging assignment for a lifeguard is safeguarding natural bodies of water, referred to as open water. Unlike pools and waterparks, crowd conditions, swift currents, cold water, underwater hazards, weather, and related conditions of open water can change quickly and pose unique obstacles to maintaining water safety. A primary responsibility is to provide constant outreach to warn visitors of the hazards, both new inherent, at each site. AMR technicians monitor water temperature, current speed, underwater hazards and public census at regular intervals every day, including in-water assessments. Even the most seasoned swimmer can be taken by surprise in swift moving water, but are generally less inclined to exercise risky behavior after an on-site expert has informed them of the hazards and possible consequences. Over the years, AMR’s River Rescue Team has become the region’s water safety subject-matter experts whom media outlets and others frequently turn to for water safety messages. Due to the focus on prevention and media interactions, the River Rescue Team receives annual training in prevention messaging and media interaction, including mock on-camera interviews and speaking points which undergo annual revisions based on previous years data.

Over the last 18 years the program has successfully reduced the drowning rate at Glenn Otto and High Rocks parks from approximately 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 256,500. The very first achievement however, was relieving community tension. At the first City Council meeting after the program began, then Councilor and now Mayor Doug Daoust, asked AMR leaders “how it feels to deliver a miracle?” Having received one of the highest compliments it could imagine, and with intense media attention, AMR set about re-instilling the philosophy of extensive selection and training, hypervigilance, and a primary focus on prevention. The official title, Oregon River Safety Program, was so named because water safety and prevention is the core focus of the program. Not only has community awareness and use of lifejackets increased, but families frequently state that they come to one of the parks for the add safety of lifeguards. The drowning rate at Glenn Otto and High Rocks parks has been reduced from approximately 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 256,500, and AMR hopes to continue to improve every year. In 2016 alone two people (a sixteen year old and a six year old) were pulled up from underwater, and an additional 147 adults and children were assisted before submerging. Over 18 years the program has directly intervened in 1,650 lives who were either beginning to or actively drowning, and have made direct prevention contacts to 23,330 people and families. The program:

  • Has saved lives, which has in return, propelled the continuance of the program.
  • Stopped the long history of fatal drownings in young people at the two parks.
  • Success created relief among the communities and community good will towards AMR’s River Rescue Team.
  • Has enhanced strong community partnerships.
  • Raised overall awareness in communities and the region about hazards of rivers in Oregon.
  • Has helped to normalized life jacket use.
  • Developed an avenue for EMTs to transition from River Rescue to AMR Ambulance Operations.
  • Has changed city parks from former “party” hangouts (with alcohol, drug use and risky behavior) to more family-friendly environments, decreasing law enforcement issues.
  • Has seen the number of visitors to the parks increase.
  • Has seen life jacket use improve across all age groups and the implemented life jacket loaner program has seen yearly increasing demand.

Today, AMR funds most of the $160,000 annual program as a community service, assisted by the City of Troutdale with a $10,000 grant most years. An additional $10,000 per year is needed for new/refreshed equipment and is a relatively small portion of the Multnomah and Clackamas County budgets. Seed funding to purchase equipment in the early years was provided by the Troutdale Booster Club and Providence Milwaukie Hospital. The program has also received grants from Safe Kids Portland Metro, Safe Kids Worldwide and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to purchase PFDs for the life jacket loaner program, develop water safety banners, support for water safety educational programs and awareness materials to distribute at events throughout the season.

Congratulations to AMR for the River Rescue Program’s selection as a 2016 AMBY Winner for Best Community Impact Program.