NB EMS Operations Division Treats About 14,000 Patients

By at March 16, 2017 | 5:00 pm | Print

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The Operations Division is the heart of New Britain Emergency Medical Services (NBEMS). Employing some 65 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) and Paramedics, their blue and white vehicles responded to over 12,900 incidents in 2016 and treated over 14,000 patients.

Emergency calls for trauma injuries, heart and respiratory incidents, acute abdominal pain, psychiatric issues and overdoses top their list of problems they face. Alcohol consumption is also involved at some level about 45 percent of the time.

“The organization plays a vitally important role in the public safety triad [police, fire, EMS] that really does make a difference in the quality of life in this community in terms of what we do, the patients that we treat and it’s done with an exceptional staff,” said Capt. Alex Morisano of the Operations Division.

But he also added that there is a need for the people of New Britain to understand just what an EMT or a Paramedic actually is. People have a misinterpretation of what they are and what they do.

“There is such a huge variation. Some people that have a complete understanding of what you are doing and there are some that have zero understanding of what you do. Some people think you’re there just to give them a ride and some think you’re going to fix their problem and can leave them at home,” said Morisano. “Now we can do a lot more than stabilize them in terms of the equipment we carry and the medications the Paramedics carry. We can turn someone around incredibly, but it is still not to the point where we can leave them at their house. It’s the entry point to a continuum of care.”

Not only is leaving the patient behind at home very dangerous to the patient, it is a drain on NBEMS. They receive nothing at all in compensation for their time, equipment, care and medications when there is no patient transport. Even with transport, Medicare only reimburses 60 cents and Medicaid 32 cents of each dollar cost to the EMS service.

CEO Bruce Baxter explained, “Emergency Medical Services are one of two components of the healthcare system that are mandated by federal law to respond, treat and care for patients without regard for their ability to pay. The other component is emergency departments.”

“If I run a police department, I get a budget. It is a guaranteed budget. I may have to, on an annual basis, lose a few bucks or gain a few bucks, but I know that I have X amount of dollars, it is guaranteed. If I run a fire department, the same is true. In EMS, 85 to 90 percent of the EMS organizations in this country are solely funded on a fee for service revenue basis. The reality of it is, if it costs me a dollar, I might get $1.25, maybe 45 cents, maybe only 20 cents and maybe nothing at all,” said Baxter. “In 25 percent of our responses there is no patient transport, we eat that. So I am expending goods and services, using up resources, and walk away with zero. At some point someone has got to sit there and make EMS almost a birthright that tags a specific dedicated funding to it.”

In many regions of the USA, police, fire and EMS services are accomplished on a county-wide basis. Asked if this was a partial answer in continuing to provide the high levels of care New Britain residents have come to expect, Baxter replied, “Connecticut still has a lot of parochial behavior. And while that can be a good thing, when you look at it from a cost standpoint, Connecticut has 200 ambulance services. A lot of them are struggling financially or even in getting ambulances out the door. It’s time to start thinking of a better way in which to share assets and resources.”

Obviously this is a major 24/7 operation with 4 ambulances running in the day, 3 in the evenings, 2 after 1 a.m. plus Paramedic supervisors always available in special vehicles.

Morisano and Baxter both commented and agreed, that it’s a rare occasion there be an incident like [Feb 9th] with the fire on West Street with people hanging out windows.

“It was heartwarming to see the number of citizens who were there in a first responder role. People were concerned enough to take action. And you had the Mayor’s office, the police, fire and EMS so perfectly in synch to deal with what could have been a far more catastrophic event than what they had -and it was just second nature. That’s just such a positive reflection on this community,” said Baxter.

Asked what NBEMS would like every resident to know, their response was immediate: “Take a CPR course!”

This is the third of three articles about NBEMS covering the administration, academy and operations activities.

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