LARGO, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2018) – Sunstar Paramedics, the 911 ambulance provider for Pinellas County, received a 2018 AMBY Award from the American Ambulance Association (AAA) for its “Basic Life Support Dispatch Project.” The project focused on improving its Communications Center’s call-taking process and management for basic life support (BLS) services.
The award recognized Sunstar Paramedics’ efforts in quality improvements. The improved process decreased the time to process BLS calls, improved resource management, and allowed the Communications Center to review protocol compliance through the new quality assurance and quality improvement process.
“Improvements to the Communications Center’s processes help to ensure patients receive the level of care that best meets their needs,” said John Peterson, chief operating office of Sunstar Paramedics. “We’re very pleased to be recognized for our work to continuously improve the EMS system in Pinellas County.”
In 2017, Sunstar Paramedics introduced BLS service for inter-facility transports, such as from a hospital to the patient’s home or a nursing home to hospital. The addition of BLS services alleviated pressure on the emergency medical services (EMS) system by using appropriate resources for nonemergency calls, which allowed advanced life support (ALS) ambulances to be better utilized.
The introduction of BLS services created a new situation for Sunstar Paramedics’ Communications Center. Call-takers needed to change the way they triaged calls to determine whether to dispatch a BLS ambulance or ALS ambulance. Sunstar Paramedics partnered with the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) to test their new inter-facility and nonemergency call-taking protocols, which proved to be very successful.
Pinellas County’s EMS director and medical director approved the new protocols, and the Communications Center’s training department developed a week-long training program for all communications staff. The new protocols enabled Sunstar Paramedics to streamline its call-taking process to better select the most appropriate resource for patients based on their clinical needs. On average, less than 1 percent of all BLS calls are upgraded to ALS.
In addition to providing the most appropriate level care, the new process better uses Sunstar Paramedics’ resources. The BLS utilization increased from 27 percent in early 2017 to 70 percent in mid-2018. The number of BLS transports has increased from an average of 29 transports per day in early 2017 to 71 per day in 2018.
Sunstar Paramedics also incorporated new procedures for quality assurance and evaluating care provided to patients through the BLS system. Leadership developed specific training and testing for the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) working on the BLS ambulances to ensure they were well qualified, and were receiving consistent feedback.
These changes also assisted in identifying future protocol improvements, as management is now able to go back and select certain BLS calls to review. Overall, this enabled more open and positive management practices with the BLS crews.
The American Ambulance Association (AAA) presents the AMBY Awards to recognize excellence, outstanding service and dedication in the ambulance profession. Sunstar Paramedics executives received the award at the American Ambulance Association’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas on Sept. 6-9.
About Sunstar Paramedics:
Sunstar is the 911 ambulance transport service for all Pinellas County residents, employing 725 local residents, and responding to around 520 calls a day. Highly awarded and accredited, Sunstar utilizes state-of-the-art equipment and software, and (along with parent company PatientCare) is an innovator of the industry’s best practices. Sunstar’s team is heavily involved in Pinellas communities, focusing largely on safety programs for the public and for schools. Sunstar is also a prior recipient of the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award, the state’s most prestigious award recognizing “role models for organizational performance excellence.” More info at SunstarEMS.com.