Local EMS needs innovation to meet its many challenges

Johnson City Press • May 19, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Today is the start of National Emergency Medical Services Week, and it’s a time to honor the professional paramedics, emergency medical technicians and rescue ser- specialists who save lives on a daily. That includes the staff of the Johnson /Washington County Emergency Medical Services. The Johnson City area is fortunate to have a professional ambulance service since 1971. The service is owned and oper- jointly by Johnson City and Washington County and regulated by a board of directors made up of city and county representatives, well as officials from the local business medical communities. Our EMS is one of the busiest emergency medical services in Tennessee — responding more than 50,000 calls a year. And it’s this volume of calls and wide range of services create unique headaches for EMS. The service employs 11 advanced life sup- ambulances and eight rescue units that ready to respond any time of the day, day of the week. These responders are backed up by five basic life-support transport ambulance as well as specialized rescue teams. There are some big challenges and possibly big changes coming for the local EMS program in the coming months. As Press Senior Reporter Becky Campbell reported last week, a recent comprehensive analysis recommends the local EMS prepare a strategic plan and seek professional accreditation for its service. One particularly challenging issue that the EMS must continue to address is improving the response times for both its rescue and ambulance services. Given the large geographical area the EMS must cover, as well as the fact it serves both rural and urban areas, a more efficient system must be devised to deliver these services. It will take a bit of “thinking outside the box” to accomplish this goal.

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