International EMS Consultant Debunks Camden County Paramedic Response Times Report

Oct 26, 2015, 09:15 ET from Virtua Health

MARLTON, N.J., Oct. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washko & Associates, LLC, a leading international Emergency Medical Services (EMS) consultancy, reviewed the IXP report commissioned by the Camden County Department of Public Safety about Advanced Life Support (ALS) (paramedic) response times and concluded that the county's report presented "an inaccurate apples to oranges comparison and shows a misunderstanding of the standards referenced and how to apply them."

In addition, "The County Report makes unsubstantiated claims regarding data accuracy and also has omitted key response time intervals that would commonly be used to benchmark an EMS system," wrote Jonathan D. Washko, MBA, AREMT-P, AEMD, President & Founder of Washko & Associates, LLC, of Northport, NY.

Virtua, the operator of ALS services in Camden and Burlington Counties for 38 years, commissioned Washko & Associates to assess the report that Camden County publicly released on October 8, 2015. Camden County's press release on that date stated that: "The findings of a newly released report on paramedic services in Camden County show a significant lapse in response time in approximately 50 percent of calls from the national standard of eight minutes."

Contrasting Camden County's assertion, Washko stated that "clinical evidence suggests that the impact of an 8 minute response time on a significant majority of EMS patients has little to no impact on patient outcomes. Response times are often politicized and used to justify budgets, jobs or are used to sway public opinion."

Washko added: "We often hear public officials touting 'every second counts', but there is little peer reviewed clinical evidence that support these claims, except for a small percentage of super critical patients where a 4 to 6 minute BLS response time has shown to positively impact patient outcomes."  Every community in the county has both Basic Life Support (BLS) services, or ambulance squads, staffed by emergency medical technicians, as well as first responder services, typically provided through police and/or fire department personnel.

Camden County's report, conducted by IXP of Princeton, NJ, only accounted for ALS response times and did not include BLS response times or those of other first responders.

New Jersey's emergency medical system is unique in the country, designed so that first responders (BLS) typically arrive first at the scene of an accident or trauma and administer appropriate life-saving measures as necessary. ALS (paramedic) squads typically follow within minutes to provide advanced life support measures after the BLS squads have stabilized the patient. BLS squads and most other first responders carry resuscitating equipment used when a person is suffering from cardiac arrest.

In its report for Camden County, IXP notes that the "key source" for the eight-minute ALS response time standard is that of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Washko pointed out that "NFPA standards are standards created for the fire service industry, by the fire service industry." Even the NFPA provides a disclaimer of its standards as follows: "While the NFPA administers the process and establishes rules to promote fairness in the development of consensus, it does not independently test, evaluate, or verify the accuracy of any information or the soundness of any judgments contained in its codes and standards." (NFPA 1710)

"We find it particularly interesting that Cooper University Hospital first released the county's ALS response time data for just the City of Camden on June 24, one day before the New Jersey Legislature voted on a bill to give Cooper control of the ALS service for that city, a service that Virtua has provided in an exemplary manner for more than 38 years," said Richard P. Miller, Virtua President & CEO. The NJ Senate and Assembly passed the bill, and Governor Chris Christie signed it just 11 days later on July 6.

"Let's connect the dots," Miller continued. "Cooper first called public attention to Camden County's paramedic response data on June 24. IXP's report is dated August 27, 2015 and Camden County issued its press release and the IXP report on October 8, 2015. All of this time, no city or county official called Virtua to express any concerns with our paramedic service. If there were an issue, why did they not call us? Why did they not engage us in the EMS study?"

"We think we know the answer," said Miller. "In June, the Cooper EMS legislation completely skirted long-established state law and regulations governing paramedic services under a Certificate of Need process. We believe that Camden County's report is the next step so that Cooper can take over paramedic services for all of Camden County, a wrongful move that is purely politically-motivated."

"At Virtua, we are extremely proud of our 175 highly-trained and experienced paramedics who respond quickly to save lives every single day," concluded Miller.  "Virtua has been providing this service in Camden and Burlington Counties at no cost to taxpayers for almost 40 years, we stand fully behind the quality of our care and service and we are committed to meeting the needs of all of the communities that we serve."

For more information on key findings of the Washko Report and for a copy of the Washko Report, go to the Virtua EMS web page: www.virtua.org/ems-spotlight.

About Virtua 

As one of New Jersey's largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, two ambulatory care centers, three fitness centers, three acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with 287 physicians plus 87 additional practitioners, urgent care centers, 11 ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn Medicine. Virtua employs more than 8,700 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit www.virtua.org or www.virtuabroadcastnetwork.org.

 

SOURCE Virtua Health



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