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New Ulm Medical Center

Additional ambulance staff means faster response in a crisis

In an emergency, time is of the essence. That’s why the Allina Health Emergency Medical Services at New Ulm Medical Center has added three full-time emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to its ambulance corps during its 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. shifts.

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In an emergency, time is of the essence. That’s why the Allina Health Emergency Medical Services at New Ulm Medical Center has added three full-time emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to its ambulance corps during its 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. shifts.

The Allina Health Emergency Medical Services staffs an ambulance in New Ulm to serve residents in need of medical transportation – whether in emergencies or non-emergency situations. It also has a backup truck that’s staffed with two on-call personnel.

The ambulance service answers about 1,100 calls a year. Of those, about 300 are to transfer patients from the New Ulm Medical Center to different hospitals. The other 800 or so are 911 calls.

The transportation service has four full-time paramedics, and, as of Dec. 31, added the full-time EMTs. The EMTs and paramedics work in teams. When a call comes in, one EMT and one paramedic respond together. (Paramedics are EMTs who have received additional training and thus are able to perform more patient care.)

In the past, paid-on-call EMTs worked from their home during the day, which slowed the vehicles getting en route, said John Richardson, operations manager of the Allina Health ambulance service.

When EMTs were needed, if they were available, they had to drive their own vehicles to the ambulance base, pick up the ambulance, and meet the paramedic at the scene of the emergency. The paramedic would drive an operations vehicle.

"With the new staffing, when a call comes, they can jump in the ambulance and go to the scene. It allows us to get the ambulance there faster," Richardson said. Two paid-on-call EMTs will still be available after hours.

When the EMTs were responding from home, it would take about five minutes on average from the time the 911 call came in to get the ambulance out the door. "With the EMTs being here at the base, that ambulance will get out the door right away," Richardson said. “Most calls in the city of New Ulm we can get to within five minutes.”

Also, if an ambulance is needed to transport a patient out of town, a second paramedic may be available on the backup truck. "That’s something which we haven’t had in the past," Richardson said.

Richardson is excited that he was able to put this plan into action. "We’ve always provided excellent service," he said, "but we’re always looking for any areas we can improve and getting the ambulance to the scene quicker is one we’ve now gotten even better at."