After coming under scrutiny, the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) is finally taking some action on its tea-break policy. As part of the United Kingdom National Health Service’s current policy, EMS providers are entitled to an undisturbed break during their shifts. Calls are diverted to other stations during these breaks, even if the crew on break is only a few minutes away and the call is time-sensitive. According to thecourier.co.uk, SAS and Scottish government officials continue to meet “to find a solution to the challenges that the policy creates.” Although this policy’s challenges are complex and the action perhaps long overdue, we applaud the administration for taking steps to address the issue in an attempt to dispatch the closest resources to all incidents whenever possible.
California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) was a unique consortium of air ambulances when it began in the 1980s, and it has continued to be innovative as it’s grown. CALSTAR began when 20 San Francisco Bay area hospitals took part in the planning of this first-of-its-kind consortium. The dream its founders had was of an air ambulance service that would best serve patients, not hospitals. They strove to be an air ambulance service whose helicopters transported patients to the best treatment facility for the patient’s condition.
CALSTAR recently added an enhancement to one of its helicopters. Its Super Lift helicopter is equipped with new, aerodynamic performance that improves safety, operations and patient care capabilities.
The BO105LS helicopter based at South Lake Tahoe (Calif.) gets its enhanced aerodynamic performance from the installation of a $320,000 Super Lifter Kit. The Kit gives the helicopter more speed, more efficiency, less vibration and greater weight-carrying potential so that it can carry two patients at once.
South Lake Tahoe sits at a high ground elevation of 6,200 feet, so lift is crucial in that service area. The modified main and tail rotors give the helicopter the ability to get out of almost-vertical holes, according to Kris Hunt, CALSTAR’s chief pilot at South Lake Tahoe. That’s particularly important when you’re in an area with 200- to 300-foot tall trees.
CALSTAR’s Super Lift helicopter is one of only three known in the world and the only air ambulance so equipped. We think CALSTAR deserves a thumbs up for continuing to improve patient transport and the overall safety aspects of its program.
Overseas Victory for Flagler County
The Flagler County (Fla.) EMS team recently won the paramedic crew section of the International Competition Rallye Rejviz in the Czech Republic. In the past three years of the Rallye Rejviz’s 15-year history, Flagler County has placed first, second and first, respectively.
In this year’s Rallye Rejviz, paramedics Dennis Kline, Caryn Prather, Mike Pius and Jessie Hunter competed against 28 teams from 19 nations. “The stations were extremely challenging. There were, for example, a subway accident with nine wounded, an AC/DC accident, drug intoxication and infant emergency management,” Austrian competition referee Christoph Redelsteiner says.
Competing teams were required to complete eight tasks during the day portion of the competition and three tasks during the nighttime portion. These tasks are different from most of the EMS competitions in the U.S. because teams often take to the road, sometimes being required to find cottages in the woods. Kline says this year they had to repel down four stories, cross a zip line and then work their way back up to reach one of their patients.
The Flagler County EMS Competition Team travels around the U.S. to about 15 competitions a year, including the JEMS Games at the EMS Today Conference & Exposition, and several other international events. Team members are tasked with raising most of the money themselves, but do receive some support from their department and corporate sponsorships from StatPacks and Intubrite LLC. JEMS is proud to recognize these highly skilled and practiced ALS ambassadors for leading the world with their knowledge and skills. JEMS
This article originally appeared in August 2011 JEMS as “Last Word: The Ups and Downs of EMS.”