More than 1,000 “saveable” lives are lost needlessly each year in the nation’s biggest cities because of inefficiencies in the cities’ emergency medical systems, a USA TODAY investigation has found.
The matter of how cities measure EMT response time is at the root of these inefficiencies in many cases, the 18-month probe found.
The newspaper’s study of the 50 biggest U.S. cities found that most report only the slice of the response that looks most favorable: the time it takes for the emergency crew to drive to the scene. On many emergency runs, that is just a fraction of the time that passes between the call for help and the arrival of rescuers.
The paper found that the way cities measure their response time to the most critical calls, such as heart attacks, makes a difference in how many lives are saved. Those that save the most lives often have improved their performance by first changing the way they measure response times to life-or-death calls, then making changes to their systems based on weaknesses revealed by those measurements.