The Sugar Land Fire Department is targeting January 2015 for implementation of its own ambulance system.
The effort is the result of a strategic project to improve the delivery of lifesaving emergency medical service in Sugar Land by:
• ensuring advanced life support response times of 60 seconds for dispatch, 60 seconds for turnout time and 8 minutes of travel time for 90 percent of all calls;
• creating a Patient Care Reporting system that can be used by paramedics in the field to ensure local hospitals have access to information prior to the arrival of patients;
• increasing fire department resources;
• building on a network of assets that provide flexibility, speed and efficiency in public safety response; and
• building an Emergency Medical Dispatch capacity that will send appropriate personnel and equipment to EMS calls.
Last year, SLFD hired Tri Data Corporation to conduct a study to determine how to meet ALS delivery standards that were previously identified by Dr. Joe Anzaldua, Sugar Land’s medical director. Tri Data Corporation recommended building and operating a paramedic transport system to meet the goals identified by the City’s medical director.
The SLFD command staff, the City’s medical director and rank-and-file firefighters are working together to refine recommendations presented by the consultant to build a patient delivery network supported by EMS revenues.
This process will occur over a period of six months to a year while emergency calls specific to Sugar Land are analyzed to determine the most efficient and effective deployment of increased resources.
As part of the proposed plan, 11 new paramedic/firefighters will be hired, and current firefighters will be provided EMS training to staff three ambulances throughout City. This will increase current staffing levels and provide promotional opportunities. A little more than $689,000 is included in the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget for start-up EMS expenses.
Increased personnel and equipment resources combined with a network of interconnected fire stations throughout the City enables SLFD to quickly dispatch resources based on the needs of specific incidents. The approach relies on a network of ambulances and fire crews in close proximity throughout the City to provide far more assets than just one station could typically offer.
Unlike other agencies where large geographic distances exist between stations, Sugar Land has strategically located stations to create a unique network of resources enabling the department to tailor its response based on call types and quickly bring a large amount of personnel and equipment to an incident. It also reduces the need to overly rely on individual stations.
Planning based on historical data has driven Sugar Land’s focus on EMS.
Last year, EMS represented more than 60 percent of SLFD’s call volume, while structure fires were about .4 percent. A focus on strong code enforcement, public education and relatively new infrastructure has contributed toward a low number of structure fires in Sugar Land.
The addition of SLFD-operated ambulances, increased paramedic certifications and expanded dispatch operations is expected to decrease response times for EMS calls. The new system should also increase readiness for fire calls, as fire trucks will no longer be necessary for minor EMS calls.