What really blows my mind is that the system we currently operate in does not mandate any minimum standards for providers (mainly BLS, as ALS is in my opinion OVER regulated), does not require an ambulance to be licensed by the Department of Health nor meet any minimum standards, nor mandate minimum response times. Better yet, EMS in New Jersey isn’t even considered an essential service like police, fire, and municipal services are. It’s simply, sickening.
Years ago I was working with New York City as an EMT out of Queens General Hospital. I remember being in shock after picking up an otherwise non-ill appearing man who gave a complaint that I currently cannot recall. We took him in a city ambulance to the local hospital. The part that shocked me was that he never entered the hospital. He thanked us and proceeded to go across the street to do his shopping. He never was sick and never intended to enter the ED doors. We served as free transportation for him.
It seems as if the overall system for Emergency Medical Care is in need of reinvention. A centrally controlled scene command, an assurance of minimal skill and proficiency for EMTs and first responders, and an ability of hospitals to have a built in cushion to absorb patients, are all core components of an effective disaster preparedness system. This reinvention must be realized on a state or regional level. Failure to address these issues could prove disastrous in the future if such circumstances ever reoccurred
Jordan Barnett, MD, is an Emergency Medicine Physician in the Philadelphia Suburban Region. He has previously worked as a volunteer firefighter, was a member of New York City EMS, and provides Medical Command for several ALS Ambulance Services. Dr Barnett provides EMS consultation services. Additionally, he is actively involved with EMS education.