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Q&A Emergency Services at JFK


Star Ledger Q&A
November 30, 2017
JFK Emergency Medical Services

Recognizing that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is often the first step in the healthcare spectrum of care, JFK EMS has become a recognized leader in the state. At the NJ Statewide Conference on EMS Awards Dinner on November 10th, the staff took home three awards including Outstanding EMS Agency Award for the second time in four years. Serving the residents of Edison and surrounding communities across three counties, JFK EMS works with local and state first responders, emergency physicians and nurses to ensure rapid, expert care.

Q: Why do you believe JFK EMS was named outstanding agency twice in four years?

A: The EMS Agency Award recognizes EMS providers who have gone beyond what is expected of them in their day-to-day duties to deliver the highest quality emergency medical services in New Jersey. JFK EMS stands out among their peers by setting a standard of care for pre-hospital services across the state through their combination of a supportive health system, an innovative approach to EMS, and a highly skilled team of pre-hospital providers.

For example, JFK EMS was the first in the state to implement the Rapid Emergency Medical Score (REMs). The scoring system is designed to predict patient outcomes based in part on the care received in the field prior to arrival in the Emergency Department (ED). At JFK EMS, the team of EMTs, paramedics, and nurses collaborate to ensure the right care at the right time and in the right place is provided to every patient for the best possible outcomes.

Q: What is the difference between an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a Paramedic?

A: The difference between an EMT and a Paramedic is the level of training. EMT’s must complete approximately 130 hours of training in Basic Life Support (BLS). They provide emergency procedures to sustain life including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, control of bleeding, treatment of shock, stabilization of injuries and wounds and first aid. Though it may vary from town to town, EMT’s are usually volunteers or paid BLS providers through the police, fire or local ambulance squads.

Paramedics must complete 2 years of training and over 800 clinical hours in Advanced Life Support (ALS). Paramedics administer life-saving medications and perform medical interventions prior to arrival in the ED. The ability to perform this advanced level of care bridges the gap from care in the field to receiving definitive treatment in the hospital. In New Jersey, paramedics are paid hospital employees.

Q: When should you call 911?

A: Any injury or illness that entails immediate medical expertise and stabilization requires a call to 911. Some of the symptoms that require immediate medical care are: shortness of breath, pain in the chest or abdomen, dizziness or weakness, changes in vision, difficulty with speech, mental confusion, severe allergic reaction and bleeding that will not stop.

Q. How is it determined who responds to a 911 call?

A. When an emergency call is placed to 911, the trained dispatcher gathers relevant information and determines what resources are needed and the level of care required to treat the patient. These resources may include Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances staffed by the town’s local ambulance squads and/or Advanced Life Support (ALS) personnel provided by the nearest hospital-based Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU).

JFK Medical Center Mobile Intensive Care Units are basically rolling emergency departments, fully equipped with life-saving technology and medications. From lactate meters, to video laryngoscopy equipment, to state-of-the-art cardiac monitors, JFK EMS prides itself on having the right tools to respond every time 911 is activated.

Q: In an emergency, why should you take an Ambulance to the ED and not drive?

A: It is not about how fast you get to the hospital but the quality of your pre-hospital care. From the minute, the EMT’s or paramedics arrive on the scene, evaluation and treatment begins immediately. Taking the time to evaluate and treat the patient in the field saves time and may shorten recovery. The hospital’s emergency medical staff are in communication with the team at the scene, which means the hospital is already preparing for the patient’s arrival. If a patient arrives by ride or other means, valuable pre-hospital treatment time is lost.

Q: What is the Future for Emergency Medical Services?

A: As our patient population grows older, there will be an increased demand when it comes to emergency medical services. At JFK, the hospital has invested in cutting-edge technology and a dynamic deployment model of care delivery known as High Performance EMS. By predicting routines and behaviors, this high-tech surveillance enables EMS personnel to plan and respond accordingly. Some obvious examples of this prediction would be Raritan Center being busy during the day, but less so at night; and during rush hour, the Parkway and Route 287 being considered hot spots due to volume. This type of day-to-day, hour-to-hour prediction of patient routines, behaviors, and movements is at the core of dynamic deployment. In response to these predicted needs, EMS units are strategically placed throughout JFK’s response area with stations based in Edison, Plainfield, South Plainfield and Metuchen.