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County Council approves blueprint for emergency medical service system

Summary

Unanimous support for King County Medic One/EMS strategic plan

Story

The integrated emergency medical services offered throughout King County earned this region an international reputation in excellence, and the distinction of being the “best place to survive a heart attack.” The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous support to the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan that will guide King County’s Medic One/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system’s nationally-recognized model for delivering pre-hospital emergency care.

“I am very proud of King County’s partnership, leadership and reputation in emergency medical services,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee and prime sponsor of the ordinance. “I’m pleased that the diverse members of the EMS Advisory Task Force created a plan to ensure that we can continue to offer our residents the finest life-saving services available. King County’s heart attack survival rate is 52 percent while New York’s is 5 percent and Chicago’s is 3 percent - this is testament to our first responders and EMS system.”

“Medic One works for all residents of King County, it is the service that gives 24 hours a day,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, chair of the Regional Policy Committee. “King County has set the gold standard in response time and quality of service. If residents had to choose between Medic One and King County government, I know which would win.”

King County’s Medic One/EMS system provides the area’s residents with essential life-saving services. The system is delivered on a regional basis, so that no matter where in King County - whether at work, play, at home, or traveling between locations – patients receive consistent, high quality medical care. It is recognized as one of the best emergency medical services program in the country, and is acclaimed for its patient outcomes.

“Emergency medical services are a collaborative effort with a single focus: ensuring that if you need medical assistance anywhere in King County, it will come quickly with people equipped to assist you,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The strategic plan sets guidelines for the present and delivers a blueprint for the future of this life-saving service.”

“King County’s EMS system is the international standard for live saving services,” said Council Vice Chair Julia Patterson. “The strategic plan focuses on strengthening the local partnerships that are the lifeblood of this vital service.”

“This stakeholder and task force inspired ‘blueprint’ builds on the historical success and legacy of what has become a national model,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “In these challenging times this strategic plan mandates essential support to the system while encouraging efficiencies, innovation and leadership.”

The Medic One/EMS system uses a tiered response model to ensure patients receive proper medical care by the most appropriate care provider. The system relies heavily upon coordinated partnerships with fire departments, paramedic agencies, dispatch centers and hospitals to deliver services in a “seamless” manner.

The adopted Strategic Plan is the result of a nine-month collaborative effort between the 19-member EMS Advisory Task Force and over 100 stakeholders representing all parts of the regional system – paramedic providers, fire agencies, hospitals, emergency doctors, communications centers, and labor. It is the primary policy and financial document that will direct the Medic One/EMS system from 2014 to 2019, and is the framework for the proposed levy that will ask voters to approve funding for the EMS program. It is anticipated that this ballot measure will be included on the November 5 ballot for approval by the voters.

“In their times of need, all King County residents, no matter where they are, have access to internationally-acclaimed, high-quality emergency medical services,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “This plan establishes how to maintain that level of coordinated, high performing life-saving service into the future.”

“Survival rates from cardiac arrests in King County are among the best in the nation. We have a proven system that yields results. The strategic plan approved today will build on our successes and help to keep King County residents well,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.

“King County emergency medical services are second to none across this nation when it comes to saving lives,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “Adopting this strategic plan will ensure the lifesaving services we offer will continue well into the future.”

“Community partnerships play a key role in the regional EMS system,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski. “The strategic plan recognizes this role even as it lays the groundwork on keeping this internationally-recognized program the best in the world in providing life-saving care.”

Along with its recommendation that EMS services continue to be supported through the voter-approved levy, the plan calls for:

• Continued ALS operations with the 26 Medic One units currently in service;
• Fully funding eligible ALS (paramedic) costs;
• Maintaining the system of local partnerships with fire agencies and other support services such as dispatchers and hospitals;
• Maintaining regional coordination and strategic initiatives to ensure efficiency in the delivery of emergency services.

The Regional Policy Committee recently amended the Plan to include an independent study to analyze the appropriate number of ALS providers needed in the region.

The County Council is currently reviewing the levy proposal that would fund these Medic One/EMS services through a voter-approved levy which is proposed to be placed on the November 5 general election ballot.


Contact the Council
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206-296-1024
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206-296-0198