Emergency Medical Treatment is Inconsistent
July 28, 2003
Emergency medical systems in most of the nation's 50 largest cities are fragmented, inconsistent and slow, according to a USA TODAY investigation.
Sharp differences in survival rates surfaced in the 18-month investigation, which included a survey of city medical directors, analyses of dispatch and response data; interviews with fire and ambulance crews and on-site visits and ride-alongs with "first responders."
Among the findings:
- People die needlessly because some cities fail to make basic, often inexpensive changes in the way they deploy ambulances, paramedics and fire trucks.
- In other cities, where the changes have been made, people in virtually identical circumstances are saved.
- For years, the conventional wisdom was that help must come within 10 minutes.
- But new findings from the Mayo Clinic show that lives actually are saved or lost within six minutes.
- The chance of surviving a dire medical emergency in the USA is a matter of geography.
- If you collapse from cardiac arrest in Seattle, a 911 call likely will bring instant advice and fast-moving firefighters and paramedics.
- Collapse in Washington, D.C., and -- as one EMS official suggests -- someone better call a cab for you.
Source: Robert Davis, "Many lives are lost across USA because emergency services fail," USA TODAY, July 28, 2003.
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