EMS World is reporting that Detroit has changed their emergency response for ambulances. This has probably been done in response to a long history of issues with the city’s emergency response, including a man’s death after one of these delays.
One of the problems I see with this is that essentially all they are doing is reshuffling the deck. According to the article they have converted 8 ALS ambulances to BLS units. They have done this by pairing EMTs together on the BLS units and Paramedics together on the ALS units. So what they have effectively done is cut down on their ALS coverage by shuffling the deck so the BLS units can handle the “non-emergencies”, which reportedly equate to 65% of the calls.
Of course, I think that depends on what you are willing to classify as an “emergency” and what you are willing to classify as a “non-emergency”. As we all know what may seem like a non-emergency to many of us is not a non-emergency to the person who is calling. Not every call requires ALS intervention and that is the whole basis behind prioritizing calls, but you are not improving the service or response time by downgrading units. All that is going to do is increase wait times for what is deemed a lower priority call and increase the risk to the BLS units by having them run all over the city so the ALS units can be available for the “emergencies”.
Systems improve service and response through intelligent deployment, reducing time on task, and where it is needed expanding on total resources available. There have been no added resources, although apparently they are understaffed by over 40 providers that have already been budgeted for. Is this a viable solution to the actual problem or is this smoke and mirrors into making the citizenry think that Detroit Fire is actually doing something to improve the service?