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New EMS Study Demonstrates How First Responder Crew Sizes and Paramedic Crew Configuration Influence Emergency Medical Response

Washington, D.C. – A new study issued today by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting, EMS, and public-safety communities shows that the size and configuration of an EMS first responder crew and an advanced life support (ALS) crew have a substantial effect on a fire department’s ability to respond to calls for emergency medical service.

Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, fire fighting and public safety communities, the study shows substantial differences associated with first responder crew size.
The new study is the first attempt to investigate the effects of varying crew configurations for first responders, the apparatus assignment of ALS personnel, and the number of ALS personnel on scene on the task completion times for ALS level incidents.

The increasing number of EMS responses point to the need for scientifically based studies to measure the operational efficiency and effectiveness of fire departments responding to medical calls. Fire departments typically deliver first-on-scene, out-of-hospital care services, regardless of whether or not they provide transport. The design of fire-based EMS systems varies across communities. Some departments deploy only Basic Life Support (BLS) units and personnel, some deploy a mix of BLS and Advanced Life Support (ALS) units and personnel, and a few departments operate solely at an ALS level.But this study emphasizes that every one of those system design decisions affects emergency medical response and care when each second counts.
The study’s principal investigators were NIST’s Jason Averill, Lori Moore-Merrell of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Kathy Notarianni of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Other organizations participating in this research include the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Commission on Fire Accreditation International-RISK, the Urban Institute and the University of North Carolina.

The report was funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.
The study can be downloaded from the partner websites or may be requested from any of the study partner organizations. The report is also available at www.firereporting.org or on the IAFF website.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, is the leading advocate in North America for the safety and training of fire fighters and paramedics. The IAFF represents more than 298,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect communities in every state in the United States and throughout Canada. More information is available at www.iaff.org.

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