Tuesday, January 6 2009 will go down in EMS history as a new day. Wake County EMS System will initiate one of the first in the country community paramedic models – Advanced Practice Paramedic.
This unique and innovative program will match specially-trained paramedics with the most acute patients, prevent emergencies in certain high-risk patient populations, and ensure that patients receive the treatment they need at facilities other than emergency rooms.
Late last fall the County’s EMS Department began training 17 experienced paramedics for APP. Participants received intense classroom and clinical training to prepare them to operate as single paramedics in cars equipped with EMS equipment.
“Important efforts like the launch of Advanced Practice Paramedics are never done alone,” said Harold Webb, Chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
“Advanced Practice Paramedics is the culmination of a lot of partners working together seamlessly to improve the level of care available to the citizens of Wake County,” said Webb. “In these times its more important than ever to find the most efficient way to deliver service while maintaining the quality and value that our citizens need, expect and deserve.”
The program will ensure that at least one additional, experienced paramedic is assigned to each high-acuity EMS call, which often requires multiple paramedics to perform time-sensitive procedures in a short period of time. In the past, the system sometimes used two ambulances to provide the necessary number of paramedics. APP will allow many of those patients to be treated while allowing the second ambulance to remain in service.
APP’s will also evaluate, educate and provide preventive care for selected patient populations; including senior citizens at high-risk for falls, those with certain diseases or a history of substance abuse. By improving the health and well-being of these patients, many medical emergencies will be prevented.
Advanced Practice Paramedics will also seek alternative destinations for EMS patients that would be better served somewhere other than emergency rooms. In certain situations, APP’s will identify and arrange transportation to substance abuse treatment centers or mental health care facilities. This will free up the ambulance for other calls.
“We have a shortage of paramedics, both nationally and in the state of North Carolina,” says Dr. Brent Myers, Wake County EMS Director. “This program allows us to make more efficient use of the paramedics that we do have, not only by getting the paramedics where we need them the most, but also by investing their time in prevention with the most acute patient populations that we see.
“We spend a lot of time and resources responding to emergencies. With the APP program, we begin to also spend time and resources preventing some of those emergencies.”
The Advanced Practice Paramedics will work staggered shift start times that will provide five APPs on duty across Wake County through the busiest parts of the day, and two APPs on duty overnight.