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Response times are important. But having enough firefighters, paramedics and EMTs to provide good response times is also important. Having "too many" firefighters, paramedics and EMTs does not dilute their proficiency or quality of care.
Let's look again at my military analogy. The armed forces continually train for when war is needed. The same applies to the members of an emergency medical service. What is required is a first-class quality-improvement program that identifies those paramedics who are not starting enough IVs, not intubating enough and not reading enough EKGs. Second, we need good training programs to keep them proficient.
When enough firefighters, paramedics and EMTs are available in the system, and there is a good quality-improvement program with training, what is achievable is excellent response times and outstanding quality care. When all of these components are in place, the patient is the ultimate winner.
GARY LUDWIG, MS, EMT-P, a FirehouseÂ® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 30 years of fire-rescue service experience. Ludwig is chairman of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has a master's degree in business and management, and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at EMS and fire conferences nationally and internationally, and can be reached through his website at www.garyludwig.com.