EMAS brings in more staff and vehicles to improve care
Patients needing an ambulance to deal with their emergency will soon benefit from more frontline staff and vehicles being introduced by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
EMAS provides emergency and urgent care to more than 4.8 million people across the region and is investing in these changes as part of its work to improve response times and the working lives of staff.
Over £2.8 million is being spent to bring 140 emergency care assistants (ECAs) into the service by the end of the summer. They will support the work of paramedics and ensure the most skilled clinicians are available to respond to the most serious calls.
EMAS has also made changes to staffing in its two emergency operations centres (control) in Lincoln and Nottingham, where on average a 999 call is received every 45 seconds; investing in more clinical assessors to deal with the many calls received that are not life-threatening.
In April two additional appointments to the clinical assessment team will bring the 2013/14 staff numbers to a total of 29, compared to just 12 in 2010. These qualified nurses or paramedics can support callers to manage their symptoms at home or signpost them to the right NHS service whilst also offering call-backs to check how patients are doing if an ambulance is required but not under emergency conditions.
Investment in staffing is backed by EMAS’ ongoing spending of more than £1.2 million in vehicles during 2012/13. By the end of April EMAS will have replaced or upgraded 55 vehicles.
Phil Milligan, EMAS’ chief executive, said: “Demand is greater than ever before so we are working within the funds available to us to ensure we have the right people and resources in place to respond to calls quickly and appropriately. This means investing in our frontline services.
“These developments support our aim to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose service.”
More emergency care assistants (ECAs)
In total 34 new ECAs have now started work in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. From the end of March, 16 ECAs will begin working across Lincolnshire. EMAS is supporting a further 90 ECAs through training. These staff will take posts across the region by the end of this summer.
By investing in more ECAs – whose skills include first-aid, monitoring vital signs and moving patients safely – EMAS can ensure paramedics remain available for the most complex calls.
For calls which are not life-threatening but need a patient to be taken to hospital we can send ECAs. This ensures paramedic resource is protected for the most serious emergencies.
More than half of the staff in the service will still be qualified to paramedic level or above, the ratio for 2013/14 is 60:40.
Changes in the control room
Two further clinical assessors will help EMAS deal with calls that are not life-threatening. These qualified staff will support patients by signposting them to other services and in some cases calling back to check on their condition.
In addition, three new urgent call handlers will support requests from GPs and other healthcare professionals to take patients to hospital or other services within urgent timeframes.
A total of 18 dispatchers will join EMAS’ emergency operations centre to focus on sending air ambulances and community first responders to emergencies. Dispatching both of these resources requires specialist knowledge, for example knowledge of appropriate landing sites for air ambulances.
Community first responders (CFRs) are sent to 999 calls at the same time as our ambulances and as they are based in their communities they can begin essential treatment such as CPR until EMAS’ clinicians arrive. EMAS has trained CFRs across the region and the new dispatchers will ensure we make the most out of these networks.
Finally, after a successful pilot a ‘safeguarding desk’ with six call handlers will be launched. Safeguarding refers to the protection of vulnerable adults and children. The desk will be a single-point of contact for staff to report any safeguarding issues and for EMAS to work with police and other agencies to address them.
Investing in our fleet
EMAS invested in four new Polambs over the last year and the final vehicle will be delivered in April.
Operational in city centres across the region, Polambs allow police and ambulance staff to respond to incidents together. They’re worth £54,000 each and were designed in response to increasing numbers of alcohol-related incidents.
Other fleet investments over the past 12 months include 39 new ambulances which were designed specifically for EMAS as a result of staff and patient feedback.
They feature more than 40 modifications to the manufacturer’s standard vehicle including better external lighting and wider interiors for treating patients.
In addition, we invested in: seven new fast-response cars; two ambulances to deal with patients who have suffered falls and; three bariatric support vehicles for patients whose size means they cannot be transported by standard ambulance.