Emergency medical service (EMS) responders take on the tough but necessary role of looking after their communities’ healthcare needs. When they’re called, it’s their job to locate patients, triage their cases, and oversee their journeys to the hospital to receive more extensive medical care.
It’s no secret that EMS providers all over the country are feeling the pressure to do well in an already difficult field. In the United States alone, events like hurricanes, forest fires, and COVID-19 have snowballed and became a lingering crisis in emergency healthcare.
Because of these events, this is the best time for EMS departments all over the country to share their best practices and synchronize their efforts to better serve their communities. Here, we are sharing what we think are six best practices for EMS providers.
The Use of Computer-Aided Dispatch Systems to Widen Reach and Improve Responsiveness
An efficient dispatch system is the bedrock of EMS. Now, more than ever, EMS providers see the value of a dispatch system that does the following:
- Transparent view of dispatch resources, status, and schedule
- Handle high call volume while ensuring quick response
- Allocates resources, like vehicles and manpower, according to real-time need
- Identify repeat shifts or schedule conflicts among EMT staff
- Synchronizes the efforts of dispatchers, ambulance operators, EMTs, and healthcare staff awaiting patient arrival in the hospital
Numerous ambulance services companies nowadays have invested and implemented a fully integrated EMS CAD system for emergency ops. Qualities that define good CAD software include real-time information updates, ease of use, and seamlessness of integration with other emergency response technologies. CAD systems compliments EMS staff’s efforts to reach patients, and thus, helps EMS providers achieve higher success rates in saving lives.
The Use of Black Box to Monitor Ambulance Operation and Safety
EMS providers cannot neglect the transport side of their services, and they must ensure that capable people are safely on their way to patients. Unfortunately, in the event of an ambulance crash, it impedes the patients’ chances of getting timely medical care.
The best EMS providers are the ones who uphold safe and lawful vehicle operation for the drivers in their fleet. One forward-thinking way EMS organizations can ensure this is by relying on black box. Just like for airplanes, black boxes can store data about whether an ambulance is operating at a safe speed and is not making dangerous road maneuvers. Black box technology grants EMS providers insight on whether ambulance operators are following traffic rules and preserving the safety of patients and staff on board.
Implementing Protocols for EMS Employee Safety
Because of COVID-19, EMS providers have likely gotten a wake-up call about just how important their human resources are. The most successful organizations have responded to this and have tightened their own employee safety and health programs. This is so that EMS responders are less vulnerable to getting sick or injured themselves while they’re performing their duties.
Today, robust EMS employee safety programs involve the following:
- Provision of sufficient personal protective equipment
- Training for specialty gear, like respirators and hazardous materials suits, while performing their duties
- Screening for infection of dangerous and highly transmissible diseases, such as COVID-19
Meaningful Training and Skill-Sharpening Opportunities for EMTs
The nature of EMS response requires that personnel stay sharp in their hands-on skills, as well as in their rapid decision-making skills. The most forward-thinking EMS organizations have invested in training opportunities so that their emergency medical technicians (EMTs) can learn how to do their work in different situations.
Training opportunities can involve sharpening physical skills, such as inserting IVs or using automated external defibrillators. Training can also be used to provide additional directives for responding to emergency situations in unique contexts, such as those of natural disaster or civil unrest. Whatever the case, it helps for EMS organizations to coach their staff upwards and support them in gaining even greater mastery of their jobs.
Regular Documentation and Constant Review of Existing EMS Processes
The last best practice pertains to documenting existing EMS processes and evaluating them for their success. It must be a standard procedure for EMS organizations to conduct risk assessments and run monthly review of processes and technologies.
For example, there’s a lot of insight that can be revealed from a review of the dispatch system. EMS departments will be able to see whether their call response rate and average response time has improved on a month-to-month basis. With that knowledge, decision makers in the healthcare center can address pain points and bolster the efficiency of their dispatchers.
The conditions in which dispatchers, EMTs, ambulance drivers, and other EMS staff do their work are always changing. By following these best practices, your EMS organization will have enabled to adapt more easily to the ever-changing environment, and will ultimately benefit the whole community.