EMSA board discussing increasing ambulance response times

TULSA, Okla. -- EMSA is looking into increasing its response time standard starting in 2013. The issue was discussed for the first time by its board of trustees in yesterday's regular board meeting.
The potential changes would increase response time to life-threatening emergencies from 8 minutes, 59 seconds to 10 minutes, 59 seconds. Non-life threatening emergencies would increase from 12 minutes, 59 seconds to 14 minutes, 59 seconds.
The recommended change would not affect first responders who are required to be on the scene within five minutes.
The change was discussed as part of the board's review of an upcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) which will be issued in November to solicit bidders for its emergency medical services contractor. EMSA contracts with and oversees a private contractor which staffs the organization with EMS and clinical personnel.
The change is proposed in response to a study issued this year by the OU Community School of Medicine and agreed upon by the Medical Control Board which oversees EMSA's clinical care.
The RFP is scheduled for final discussion and vote by the board of trustees in its September board meeting. If the recommended change is made after consideration of the bids, the change would go into effect in November 2013.
The recommended changes would have no impact patients
There is no effect to a person's health or death rate of an ambulance arriving in nine minutes, as they do now, or 11 minutes.
This is true for trauma patients as well as medical patients, even in the cases of serious life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest.
Response times have been studied extensively over the last decade. The industry best practice is moving toward the extended response times in many areas.
Clinical outcomes or mortality rates, in relationship to response time, are most affected by patient care starting within the first five minutes. This is why we have a robust system of 911 dispatchers who give pre-arrival instructions and first responders who are required to respond within the five minutes.
The recommended changes are based on clinical data, not financial
The change is based solely on evidence-based clinical data. It is a more clinically efficient and safer way for us to respond to emergency calls. The recommended change will also allow for a safer driving response which is a critically important safety issue for EMS personnel and citizens.
All of the proposed clinical changes, including the response time, were made at the recommendation of the Medical Control Board and the OU School of Community Medicine study.
We don't know the financial impact right now. We will be asking bidders to bid using both response times, the current ones and the recommended ones.
Our sole intention with the RFP and bidding process, as always, is to purchase the best quality of patient care that we can at the most fiscally responsible price.

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