At last week’s Los Angeles County Supervisors meeting, the Board granted permission for the Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) to enter into agreements with local fire departments to improve patient data collection. The first pilot program will be with the Long Beach Fire Department, beginning later this year.
EMS coordinates services for Los Angeles County, which includes 30 fire departments and four ambulance companies who respond to 911 calls. “Currently, we have about 600,000 EMS patient contacts with pre-hospital care providers and paramedics,” said Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe on his blog. “There is a patient care record generated for each patient by the fire department, by the base hospital providing orders to the paramedics, and by the trauma center. Obviously, it is critical that this information is accurate, timely and shared.”
Since its inception in Los Angeles County in the 1970s, there has been little change in how the patient care record is generated and transferred to the EMS Agency. Data from some large departments can be over a year behind. Federal funds are often available for data improvement within hospitals, but not for EMS. Many still do not see the person in the pre-hospital environment as a patient.
“Funding for this pilot program is coming through a Homeland Security grant to recognize the importance of data collection and submission in the event of a crisis,” Knabe said. “I am pleased to see this pilot program get underway and hope that it will be expanded to other fire departments. Data is absolutely critical for us to make policy decisions and to evaluate our system and care for those most in need.”