Fire dept.’s 'Mobile Medic' program increases efficiency

The Rapid City Fire Department now deploys one paramedic in an SUV to calls that are not as urgent so that an ambulance unit is kept available

By FireRescue1 Staff

RAPID CITY, S.D. —A fire department that experiences a high volume of medical calls has implemented a program that aims to increase efficiency by keeping ambulances available for urgent calls.

Newscenter1 reported that Rapid City Fire Department’s Mobile Medic program sends one paramedic in an SUV to calls that 911 dispatchers determine aren’t urgent enough to require an ambulance.

"It keeps a unit available for response and decreases the number of responses that we send an ambulance and a fire truck go to,” Division Chief Jason Culberson said. “It allows an ambulance to stay in house and in service to respond to higher acuity calls for service."

The department responded to over 17,000 medical calls in 2015, but those calls dropped to around 16,500 in 2016 after the program was implemented.

Lead Mobile Medic Capt. Chris Jolley said one example of when the program proved effective occurred when the Mobile Medic team responded to a patient who was experiencing nausea, and at the same time, an ambulance responded to a call about a cardiac arrest patient.

"If that unit had been tied up on the nausea call, then we'd have to bring in an ambulance from another neighborhood from over by the hospital or from the cement plant to handle that same cardiac arrest, which would slow down the care that that patient needed,” Capt. Jolley said.

The program also gives patients a more affordable care option.

"A lot of the patients that we're seeing right now are Medicaid and Medicare patients,” Chief Culberson said. “So those Medicaid patients aren't needing to go to the emergency room anymore, decreases the cost for the overall taxpayers throughout the state."

Capt. Jolley added that the program has allowed the department to take “emergency medicine to the next level.”

“It's going from not so much emergency medical services to prehospital care services, to mobile healthcare services. We're providing better care to the patients by putting them in the right direction for resources."

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