POSTED ON NOVEMBER 14, 2012:
Setting the record straight on EMSA
With many public service agencies, it's rarely reported what they are doing well because those responsible for reporting or blogging have decided that we either don't want or don't need to know the good, only the bad and the ugly. And given that no public service agency, public official, or private company for that matter is going to do everything correct every single time, there will always be the bad and the ugly to tell.
It's as if the motive is to keep the masses focused on being against what the dedicated public service workers are trying to do. Of course, the rebuttal from the authors of a one-sided story will be it's not the workers being criticized, only the leaders. But to think you can single out one without affecting the other is complete nonsense. If you don't think there is collateral damage, just go ask the workers.
In the case of the important and vital services provided by EMSA, the only voice that really matters is that of the citizens. You can't fool or divert the attention of the citizens when it comes to what is the most important part about EMSA: saving lives. If you or someone you care about is being transported to a medical facility, the absolute last thing on your mind is mistakes on billing statements, office furniture bought, travel expenses for training, or who their supply vendors are. This is but a small part of EMSA's bigger picture.
In the city of Tulsa's most recent citizen survey of 200 households in each of the nine city council districts (over 1,800 households), the citizens have made clear their opinions of EMSA. When asked to rate how satisfied or dissatisfied they were on the medical services provided by EMSA, a stunning 80 percent were either very or somewhat satisfied. Only 12 percent were dissatisfied. When asked if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with the response time of EMSA into their neighborhood, again 80 percent were very or somewhat satisfied. Only 2 percent were dissatisfied.
What other highly visible public agency serving more than 10,000 people per month has an equivalent vote of public confidence?
Does this mean EMSA is perfect and should be immune from scrutiny? Of course not. Does it mean it can't be improved? It doesn't mean that either.
Sure, EMSA's expenses should be and are audited regularly like every other agency. At the time the EMSA contract with the city was up for renewal, the mayor's Management Review Office did a complete performance efficiency audit and operational review to find ways to cut costs and save money. More than 50 separate findings and recommendations were developed, mostly in what is commonly referred to as "back office" processes. The recommendations EMSA committed to will allow the city to realize at least $1 million in measurable cost savings and/or enhanced revenue from process efficiencies and improved customer service. This means that the "back office" non-clinical services of EMSA are on the same path that has brought their delivery of direct clinical services national acclaim.
What's been missing is balance in telling the whole story about EMSA. Balance framed by full disclosure of all of the facts and the whole truth. Once this is done, the citizens are smart enough to render their own verdicts on the value of EMSA to the entire region. In a court of law, the jury doesn't get to listen to only one side before it renders its decision. It hears the voices and evidence from both sides. The same should hold true in the court of public opinion regarding EMSA.
So here are some of the facts that you may not have heard about EMSA:
Cardiac arrest survival rates due to EMSA response are nearly seven times the national average.
EMSA is one of only 159 ambulance services in the country to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services.
EMSA has trained more than 5,000 volunteers in disaster preparedness.
Year after year, EMSA has achieved compliance at or better than the 90 percent standard across all categories.
EMSA employs more than 600 with an economic impact of over $35 million.
If you have never needed the services of EMSA, consider yourself very fortunate. If you have, or you know someone who has, the professionally trained and dedicated men and women at EMSA probably did more in the early moments of your trauma to save your life or stabilize your condition than you will ever know.
They are the equivalent to a MASH unit in the military. They are the first to arrive, the first to save, the first to rescue, and the first to move you to a medical facility. Once they have secured and stabilized you, they're gone, back into the streets to do it again. You never know their names, probably will never remember their faces, and oftentimes don't get to thank them. They don't expect that, yet they will never forget you.
If you truly have doubts about the excellence provided by EMSA, think about calling a trash truck or a cab the next time you need emergency medical care and transportation.
EMSA: It stands for Emergency Medical Services Authority. It also stands for Excellent Medical Services Always.
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