Georgia County Government - January/February 2012 - (Page 16)
EMS Delivery Models in Georgia
By Laura A. Hernandez
n Georgia, there are three primary models for the delivery of emergency medical services (EMS): private, hospital-based and county. Interviews were conducted with managers of each type in order to explore the various models’ merits and limitations.
Shane Garrison is vice-president of Puckett EMS, a company that has served southwest Cobb County since 2001. In his jurisdiction, several factors have combined to make private operation the preferred alternative for EMS delivery. First, economies of scale enable Puckett EMS to bring in large revenues. Cobb County has a population of approximately 700,000 people, and total monthly EMS responses surpass 2,000. Logistically, three well-equipped county hospitals and an efficient road system allow for fast ambulance turnaround times. With
Puckett EMS provides emergency medical services in southwest Cobb County and handles more than 2,000 calls per month. Photo courtesy Puckett EMS. 16
GEORGIA COUNTY GOVERNMENT
a high number of transports, Puckett EMS is able to provide ambulances at a lower cost by offsetting operating expenses. Garrison also attributes the success of the private model in his jurisdiction to the sense of teamwork that the county and the company have forged together. “Even though we are a private EMS provider, Cobb County government has always treated us as a key member of our community’s public safety net,” he says. “We’re included in all stages of readiness, planning and preparation. We train together and participate in community events together. There is a mutual respect and accountability that runs deep through our history with the county.” Garrison believes that the privately-owned EMS model has numerous benefits to offer counties that adopt it. First and foremost, it insulates counties from the liability of providing EMS. In managing EMS, a myriad of laws, regulations, and billing and privacy procedures must be followed properly. “Partnering with a reputable EMS company that’s solely focused on providing this type of service is sometimes the best option, even if the cost to the county is exactly the same,” advises Garrison. By not having to fund all of the payroll benefits and equipment costs, some counties can enjoy large savings by contracting with a private EMS. Moreover, if subsidies are required, these fees are set with the budget, thereby eliminating unexpected expenses. Quality private providers use service efficiency to achieve profitability. A private EMS is also able to adapt quickly to changes. “We have the flexibility to make adjustments mid-fiscal year to meet emerging threats and develop new capabilities, because we don’t have to go through a bureaucracy to develop or fund these activities,” says Garrison. Finally, the desire to hold the county EMS contract often makes a private provider more responsive. “At the end of the day, a private provider knows that if they don’t live up to the expectations of the community, they’ll be replaced,” says Garrison. “This level of accountability doesn’t always exist in many county and hospital-based EMS departments.” Although he acknowledges that the private EMS model works ideally in a jurisdiction with economies of scale, Garrison doesn’t feel that the model should be considered off-limits to counties of any size or profile.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - January/February 2012
Guest Editorial: Together We Stand
Harris County: Smart Investments Paying Dividends for the Future
EMS Delivery Models in Georgia
How New EMS Technologies are Improving Patient Care
Regional EMS: Opportunities for Better Service and Lower Costs?
EMS Leadership Course Planned
Washington D.C. Update
Georgia Public Safety Radio Systems Must Transition to Narrowbanding
Fulton County Public Works Recognized with APWA Accreditation
Extension News: Teens Solving Community Problems
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - January/February 2012