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King County Council approves blueprint for emergency medical service system

The Metropolitan King County Council has given its unanimous support to the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan, which will guide King County’s Medic One/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system’s nationally recognized model for delivering pre-hospital emergency care.

The integrated emergency medical services offered throughout King County earned this region an international reputation in excellence, and the distinction of being the “best place to survive a heart attack.”

“I am very proud of King County’s partnership, leadership and reputation in emergency medical services,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee and prime sponsor of the ordinance. “I’m pleased that the diverse members of the EMS Advisory Task Force created a plan to ensure that we can continue to offer our residents the finest life-saving services available. King County’s heart attack survival rate is 52 percent while New York’s is 5 percent and Chicago’s is 3 percent — this is testament to our first responders and EMS system.”

The plan is the result of a nine-month collaborative effort between the 19-member EMS Advisory Task Force and over 100 stakeholders representing all parts of the regional system — paramedic providers, fire agencies, hospitals, emergency doctors, communications centers and labor.

The plan is the framework for the proposed levy that will ask voters in November to continue to fund the EMS program.

“Medic One works for all residents of King County; it is the service that gives 24 hours a day,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, chair of the Regional Policy Committee. “King County has set the gold standard in response time and quality of service. If residents had to choose between Medic One and King County government, I know which would win.”

King County’s Medic One/EMS system provides the area’s residents with essential life-saving services. The system is delivered on a regional basis, so that no matter where in King County — whether at work, play, at home, or traveling between locations — patients receive consistent, high quality medical care. It is recognized as one of the best emergency medical services program in the country, and is acclaimed for its patient outcomes.

The Medic One/EMS system uses a tiered response model to ensure that patients receive proper medical care by the most appropriate care provider. The system relies heavily upon coordinated partnerships with fire departments, paramedic agencies, dispatch centers and hospitals to deliver services in a “seamless” manner.

Along with its recommendation that EMS services continue to be supported through the voter-approved levy, the plan calls for:

·       Continued ALS operations with the 26 Medic One units currently in service;

·       Fully funding eligible ALS (paramedic) costs;

·       Maintaining the system of local partnerships with fire agencies and other support services such as dispatchers and hospitals;

·       Maintaining regional coordination and strategic initiatives to ensure efficiency in the delivery of emergency services.

The Regional Policy Committee recently amended the plan to include an independent study to analyze the appropriate number of ALS providers needed in the region.

The County Council is currently reviewing the levy proposal that would fund these Medic One/EMS services through a voter-approved levy which is proposed to be placed on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

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