FIRE DEPARTMENT: ADD EMS UNITS

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FIRE DEPARTMENT: ADD EMS UNITS

 

Problem Identification:
The BCFD has 18 front-line EMS units in service 24 hours every day. This is not enough to adequately respond to the number of calls to the EMS system. The average EMS unit in Baltimore City responds to 6,500 calls each year. Annual averages for units in cities similar to Baltimore are 4,500. The over-worked EMS system contributes to paramedic burnout and higher response times for medic units.

Recommended Action:
Add four to six EMS units.

Classification:
Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
EMS

Estimated Annual Impact:
Response times for EMS units should be reduced from the current average of 8 minutes and 44 seconds.

Estimated Implementation Costs:
To be offset by cost savings achieved through the consolidation of fire suppression companies.

Barriers to Implementation:
None

Projected Implementation:
Immediate

Next Steps:
Place additional EMS units in service as soon as possible. Order additional equipment as necessary to maintain the increased deployment of units.

Analysis:
Medical emergency calls far exceed fire suppression calls for service, yet fire suppression units exceed medic units by a three-to-one ratio. Consequently, EMS response times are almost double fire suppression response times. Additionally, over 40 percent of fire suppression equipment responses are ambulance assistance calls and/or medic-related.

Annually, the Department’s EMS units respond to an unusually high number of calls. In comparison with cities of similar size and demographics, the City’s average EMS unit runs 2,000 more calls each year. The burden this places on EMS units has recently manifested into several issues, which if not addressed, threaten to undermine the effectiveness of the EMS system. These problems are the recent transfers of many veteran EMS personnel to less-paying suppression positions, the high incidence of ‘Red Alert’ situations, and the increasing number of suppression units being called for medical assists.

Given this workload disparity, it is not unexpected that the Department’s medic units are in service dramatically more hours per day than fire suppression units. The most active medic unit responded 7,865 times in FY99, while the most active fire engine responded 3,711 times, of which 1,442 were ambulance assists. The least active medic unit responded 4,476 times in FY99, while several (12) fire engines and trucks responded less than 1,000 times each that fiscal year.