What is Wrong With Washington DC Emergency Medical Service


The major problems facing emergency medical systems in America's 50 largest cities are inconsistency, fragmentation and lack of speed. The life or death of victims depends on how fast they get treatment. Statistics show that lives are usually saved or lost within six minutes of an emergency. However, the chance of surviving a serious medical emergency in the USA is a matter of geography. A closer look at the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in Washington DC makes one wonder if D.C. is really the capital of the United States or a dry bush land at the edge of the Amazon forest.

Generally, the district doesn’t have a strong public hospital or institution to nurture the culture of EMS excellence that is vital for the agency’s independence. In addition, the agency lacks performance evaluations, accountability as well as tracking and evaluation of patient care that is essential for compassionate, professional and competent work. It is no wonder that several residents of DC prefer to drive themselves to hospital claiming that the EMTs are all but compassionate or sympathetic to victims of medical emergencies.

Moreover, the speed of responsiveness is far from comforting. It is a popular notion that if one collapses in DC it’s better to call a cab than an ambulance, because with the former you may actually reach the hospital in good time. The District has done very little to resolve this. Ambulances are still the first to be taken out of service when employees call in sick regardless of the preponderance of medical calls. Unions have also banned changes in shift schedule or flexible staffing to enhance matching of limited resources with predictable demand cycles. Reform in the EMS agency requires active support from the mayor, the first-responders and the D.C. Council, all of whom are yet to effect any changes.

The District hosts the centers of all three branches of the federal government of the U.S.A. Washington is also home to many national museums. The city hosts 176 foreign embassies, and is also the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions and non-profit organizations. Once in two years, the Trauma Care Regional Councils and all eight EMS care regions in D.C. prepare plans to attain overall aim within their boundaries. Therefore, shouldn’t DC have the best EMS agency? Sincerely speaking, what is wrong with Washington DC Emergency Medical Service!



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