Inside EMS Podcast: Do Response Times Really Matter?

In this week’s episode of Inside EMS, co-host Chris Cebollero and I discuss the difficulty San Francisco FD is having meeting EMS response time standards. The FD crunched the numbers, said they needed 42 more paramedics, and the city gave them only 16.

Unsurprisingly, they’re still having difficulty making their response time standards, and now the city is turning to private ambulance services to fill the gaps.

San Francisco FD is far from the only major urban EMS system to have that problem. Chris and I discuss the unpleasant fact that EMS has painted itself into a corner where response times are concerned: we have fostered the notion that every EMS call deserves a rapid response.

The reality is that the vast majority of EMS calls don’t even need an ambulance, much less one that arrives in 8 minutes, 59 seconds or less. Response time standards are utterly arbitrary, most EMS calls are not time-sensitive, there is very little research on how response times impact outcomes, and we’re struggling to meet unrealistic expectations that have no basis in science.

In our Clinical Issue, we discuss best practices for treatment of anaphylaxis, and the Chicago’s Food Allergy Research and Education Summit’s push to require all schools to have Epi-Pens on hand.

Give us a listen, and share your thoughts.