Fire Headlines Podcast Icon - Medical

No Time To Waste – Ambulance Shortages

November 1, 2023

26

In a recently shared article in the Daily Dispatch shines a spotlight on ambulance shortages and the measures first responders are taking to provide adequate care to their community. In a notable incident, Portland Fire and Rescue utilized one of its fire engines to transport a stroke victim to the hospital. This decision was made after Intterra mapping app, utilized by first responders in the area, indicated there was not an ambulance available for immediate patient transport. Fire Headlines host Samantha Didion is joined by the panel, Chief Jeff Buchanan and Chief Bob Horton to delve into the liability issues and staffing shortages associated to this topic.

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Learn about liability issues as ambulance shortages impact the fire service in the latest episode of Western Fire Chiefs Association’s Fire Headlines Podcast.

Ambulance Shortages

In recently shared article in the Daily Dispatch shines a spotlight on ambulance shortages and the measures first responders are taking to provide adequate care to their community. In a notable incident, Portland Fire and Rescue utilized one of its fire engines to transport a stroke victim to the hospital. This decision was made after Intterra mapping app, utilized by first responders in the area, indicated there was not an ambulance available for immediate patient transport. Fire Headlines host Samantha Didion is joined by the panel, Chief Jeff Buchanan and Chief Bob Horton to delve into the liability issues and staffing shortages associated to this topic.

Fire Headlines listeners have also submitted a question concerning how small departments with limited budgets can maximize their resources.

Liability Issues with Fire Crews Transporting Patients

Chief Horton highlights the concept of liability, which encompasses all actions in the fire service. Fire service professionals are in the risk management business and navigate various gray areas throughout their day. Although systems and protocols are in place to provide guidance for decision-making, it is not always evident what the protocols direct personnel to do.  This ambiguity can potentially lead to situations where liability becomes a concern for an organization.

In the specific case outlined in the article, Chief Horton commends the actions taken by the crew leader and agrees it was the best course of action to help a patient with a potentially life-threatening illness. He raises the question of whether there would have been cause for celebration if this action did not result in a positive outcome. Nevertheless, he emphasizes that, regardless of the outcome, it was the ethically right decision to make.

First Responder Mapping Technology

Chief Buchanan points out that as technology evolves, the need for data sharing increases. Having a public safety broadband network, like the Intterra app, is essential to offer this information on a unified operating platform that is vital for firefighters. He asserts without the technologically proficient firefighters using this app, determining the best course of action in this case would have been challenging. 

Listener Question

This week, a listener submitted a question to the panel, inquiring “As (the) cost of supplies, payroll, fuel, and everything else goes up, how do you see small departments, with budgets that are already tight, maximizing their dollars?” Chief Buchanan addresses this question mentioning that these departments can proactively put aside an arbitrary percent of their budget for these types of situations and inflation. He advises departments to be very intentional with their operational decisions to enhance cost-effectiveness.  

Chief Horton views it as a math problem of dealing with the “rising costs and fixed revenues.” He recommends increasing revenues by exploring other ways to generate income and improve efficiency.

To ensure the survival of small organizations in the future, it’s crucial to gain community support for raising tax levies and seek collaboration through shared service agreements that optimize resources. These service agreements can encompass maintenance work, technology systems, and HR functions

You can email Fire Headlines at [email protected].

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