Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why Are We Always Looking For A Bargain With EMS?

With the turmoil EMS is in in the Hudson Valley region, it seems more and more elected officials want to seek out the best bargain they can when it comes to providing EMS, meanwhile, the companies that provide it continue to bleed cash and barely stay alive.

So, why is it that these communities are always looking to get a bargain for such a critical, life saving service? I'm sure these same elected officials don't care about how gluttonous some fire departments are, or how much money their DPW is losing them.

Although EMS is the new kid on the block, we stand shoulder to shoulder with Firefighters and Police Officers. Nobody would ever suggest contracting out for Fire or Police or even DPW, yet even get away with doing it.

I blame ourselves. I don't think EMS does anything proactively, like community education as to what we do. Nor do I think EMS makes a good enough case to justify to the elected officials that we're neccasary. I really think some elected officials truly think it's just a ride to the hospital.

Although there are excellent private companies that provide superior EMS, I don't feel EMS should be provided by for-profit companies. I also don't think that "BLS Interfacility Transports" should be considered Emergency Medical Services. All this does is blur the line for us.

Take Yonkers for example. There's no reason why they can't provide EMS that sets an example and a standard, just like their Fire and Police Departments do. Also, look at Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook EMS. They cover 3 muncipalties with fully staffed, ALS ambulances. They've progressively grown from a volunteer agency to one of the premier, self sufficient, independent agency EMS systems in Westchester County- pehaps the only one. Also, look at other area systems like Stamford or Greenwich EMS. There's a number of different ways to do things, and it's time we bring EMS to the next level NOW instead of dragging it there. Lives are at stake, yet some people think it's their egos that are.

EMS needs to start coming together as a whole, demanding that EMS is provided by the muncipality directly as it's own department, staffed with either full-time civil service employees, or volunteers, or both. Although there may not be enough call volume in some muncipalities to warrant this, there's no reason why communities can't come together to form "EMS Districts", like we have sewer and fire districts.

How come communties don't contract out their DPW? It would seem that it could be done better and cheaper by private contractors, right? (sarcasm)

Maybe we should take a look at the pensions and benefits some of these elected officials get for only a couple of hours of work each week. Maybe we could get money from there?
We live in one of the wealthiest, fastest growing areas of the nation. Compared to other similar parts of the nation, even communities inferior to us, that have EMS, looking comparitevly, EMS around here is a real shame. It's pathetic.

Also, the ego-driven fragmentation of EMS in this area doesn't help things.

In a future post, I'll detail how EMS is provided in some other similar parts of the country, including Los Angeles City Fire Department, where EVERY community has an ambulance, and Los Angeles County Fire Department, who's hybrid Firefighter-Paramedic ALS system, and Private Transport service collaboration makes us look pathetic. The West coast, heck, even poorer parts of the South and Midwest, makes us look lights years behind.