It was reported this morning in the Cleveland Paper the Plain Dealer that Cleveland EMS will start rejecting minor calls for service unless the system is able to handle it. Writer Mark Puente reports:
“This is a huge step for Cleveland,” EMS Commissioner Ed Eckart said. “This is a step back from a long-standing culture in this city.”
And indeed a long standing culture in America on whole. I have a call into the Commissioner to get more details on the nuts and bolts of this move as I would love to know how we all can enact this kind of common sense in our own EMS systems.
Now before everyone starts wringing their hands about what is going to happen, take the time to read through the comments on the story, many of which claim to be written by local responders.
As you start to write your comment about the referred ankle pain that could be presenting as a silent MI, keep in mind that as you transport that “maybe” call, the actual crushing chest pain that IS an MI is waiting longer for a transport. We need to stop worrying about what might be and focus on what is.
The issue of liability for reducing immediate response is countered by the liability of explaining to the family of a deceased person that their ambulance was delayed because of system abusers. We call it triage. No one thinks twice about ignoring minor injuries in an MCI, why is it suddenly an issue when that decision is moved into the control center? If we let the call taker take the calls and the triage system deems it non-emergent, then let it be non-emergent.
For so long we as an industry have striven for an 8 minute goal only to see the nation expect that 8 minutes for everything. Cleveland says no more. Cleveland. No offense to the system there, I’m learning more about it now, but if you went to a conference and asked which EMS system in the Nation is out ahead of the others, Cleveland is not in my top 3. Until now.
A Tip of the Helmet to Commissioner Eckart and the Cleveland EMS system for breaking free and doing the right thing. I hope to learn more about their research and system savings in the near future. I will most certainly pass that along if I can get it. Do you have a question you’d like me to ask the Commissioner? Post it below and I’ll ask him.