Strategic Review Could Mean EMSA, TFD Changes

Tuesday, January 13th 2009, 7:52 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The leaders of Tulsa's Emergency Medical System finished a strategic review and now they're working on putting some of it into practice.

The recommendations include joint training between EMSA and fire department paramedics, looking more honestly at response times as just one part of the response and combining dispatch services so EMSA and Tulsa's Fire Department can work more closely.

Read the entire report with recommendations.

One fire department "suburban" might be one step towards improving Tulsa's already well regarded emergency response system.

It can get a first responder to a medical emergency both faster and cheaper than a full size fire truck.

"What that will do is send out two firefighters, one of them a firefighter/paramedic and that's a different manner of deploying our resources," said Captain Michael Baker, Tulsa Fire Department.

The first responder SUVs are included in a new set of recommendations the Medical Control Board is making to the Tulsa city council.

"Our measurement was how quickly can we get there and for most of our responses, that's not the most important thing. The important thing is getting the right qualified person there to start the right treatment," said Doctor John Sacra, Tulsa Medical Control Board.

Doctor John Sacra is part of the board that oversees Tulsa's EMS. Right now EMSA sends an ambulance to every medical call and the fire department responds depending on the urgency of the call.

But as it turns out, according to Doctor Sacra, about a third of the time that's more help than is really needed. So Tulsa's practice of sending the fire department on so many medical calls might be due for change.

"Right now we are over responding to a certain degree," said Doctor Sacra.

"There's a lot of schools out there -- send everything you've got so you have all the tools with you and there's a school of thought of send something out there and check it out," said Captain Baker.

The decision would have to be written into policy and carried out by EMSA dispatchers, who are also paramedics.

It's all part of the review that's underway, designed to improve how well patients do when they need emergency care.

Read the entire report with all the recommendations.