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Florida EMS Uses Optima Software to Do More with Limited Resources, Avoiding More Than $750,000 in Unnecessary Costs

Optima live ™ deployment and Optima predict ™ software programs are designed to help emergency medical services (EMS) dispatchers and operations personnel gain insight into ways to reduce response times and deploy ambulances and other resources more efficiently. The programs simulate and predict changes in call volume and other potential events to help place the right resources in the right area at the right time, thus improving deployment efficiency and medical care.

A complete case study can be downloaded from http://www.theoptimacorporation.com/LeeCaseStudy.

Lee County in southwestern Florida is an area that has experienced a drastic economic downturn due to slumps in real estate values and personal income. The result: some county agency budgets have been cut or frozen while being pressured to add new services to improve emergency services response times.

David Kulpanowski, Lee County Public Safety Data Analyst, commented, “The county has grown and opened up new areas that we need to provide services for. Did we need to move a facility there or open up a new facility? We really had no way to know, except by gut feeling. This is not a trivial decision. Moving an existing facility or opening a new one requires resources and time, both of which are precious commodities in great demand.”

To answer growing demand for services and make the most of their restricted budget, the county EMS and Emergency Dispatch Center was the first organization in the U.S. to deploy Optima live deployment and Optima predict simulation and optimization programs.

Lee County operations strived for a routine response time of less than nine minutes. Seasonally long offload times at hospitals, a seasonal influx of tourists and a potential hospital closure was pressuring the EMS leadership team to add more ambulances to the 32 it already maintained or to change where and how they were deployed.

Using Optima’s solutions, Lee County now makes strategic, evidence-based decisions to optimize EMS services and help the county run EMS operations with existing manpower and money. By running complex simulations and producing reports for decision makers, Optima software also helps Lee County prepare for unexpected changes in demand for services caused by one hospital’s closure, in addition to the major influx in population due to seasonal residents and vacationers, or an epidemic.

Kim Dickerson, Lee County Emergency Medical Services Chief, says “The investment in Optima software is already paying off. When faced with substantial budget cuts, we saved more than $750,000 in annual expenses by modeling ambulance service delivery with the Optima software.”

The software also enabled county EMS officials to assist another local agency to reduce 17,520 service unit hours annually, the equivalent of two 24-hour units, with no negative effect on response time performance. Meanwhile, the improvements in deployment reduced EMS call response time by more than 2.2%, even though call volume increased by more than 5%.

“Just one example of a decision that was influenced by Optima live deployment data is ambulance Medic 6, which was moved from its regular station on Bonita Grande Drive to a new location on Old U.S. 41, which allowed it to respond to a call from Imperial Harbor in just 3 minutes instead of the usual 8 to 10 minutes. We are seeing similar improvements daily.”

Recommendations made by Optima live deployment continue to be confirmed by the software modeling data and anecdotally by field and communications personnel. Chief Dickerson commented, “Now, the question being asked is, ‘Are our stations in the wrong place?’ Fortunately, Optima has a solution for that.”

About The Optima Corporation
Optima Corporation is a world-leading operations research company that delivers innovative, best-in-class optimization and simulation software solutions for the emergency services, airline and healthcare industries.

Optima was founded in 1998 by Auckland University engineering science faculty members Professor David Ryan and Dr. Andrew Mason together with graduate Dr. Paul Day. Optima's strength comes from the experience of its founders in implementing advanced operations research techniques for companies such as Air New Zealand. This experience helps to enable dramatic reductions in business costs and improvements in operational effectiveness.

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