Ed's Note: If you would like EMSWorld to profile your agency, e-mail Kim Berndtson.
Relationships are key ingredients in the success of any EMS or fire department. Making connections and building rapport within and outside of the department can go a long way to enhancing the care EMTs and paramedics deliver to the community.
Members of the Aurora Fire Department (AFD) in Aurora, CO, have worked diligently in recent years to develop dynamic and collaborative relationships with several members of the EMS system, including dispatchers, police officers, health department officials, air medical helicopter personnel, physicians, nurses and other professionals in addition to EMS and fire personnel.
"The Aurora Fire Department recognizes the role we play is just one element in the emergency response system that protects our community," says Floyd Salazar, a paramedic supervisor in the department's EMS Bureau. "We realize that in order for the system to be at its best, each link must be at its best. To that end, we've embraced a collaborative, data-driven philosophy that encourages coordination and communication between professionals from each agency."
Salazar, along with Kevin Waters, EMS Bureau Manager, describe their agency's process of building relationships to enhance EMS care and developing programs that meet the needs of their community for EMSWorld.com.
You point out that dynamic and collaborative relationships are important to your department's success. How did you create those relationships? Why are they important?
By partnering with the Medical Center of Aurora, University Hospital, The Children's Hospital, Tri-County Health Department and Rural Metro Ambulance, an emergency medical system has been developed that is delivering world class care to our community. The joint medical oversight provided by Dr. Gilbert Pineda of the Medical Center of Aurora and Dr. Fred Severyn of University Hospital ensures the care being delivered by AFD firefighters is safe, effective, and in keeping with the most current scientific evidence available.
Realizing that no one element of the system can do everything well, we came to the conclusion that if every element is not only operating at its peak but is operating is such a way that it supports the efforts and processes of all the other partners, the system as a whole would be much more effective.
Initially, AFD brought the representatives of these various organizations together to meet on a regular basis. The goal was to build a collegial relationship between all those involved and to grow that relationship to a point where we could pool our collective talents and experience to improve EMS in Aurora.
What department programs have been instituted to meet emergent and non-emergent needs of your community?
In 2008, AFD, Rural/Metro Ambulance, the Medical Center of Aurora, University of Colorado Hospital and The Children's Hospital worked together to develop a process termed resuscitation choreography. This refinement of existing practices streamlines the way cardiac arrest patients are managed and represents a multi disciplined, coordinated approach to taking care of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest. The resulting coordination and communication between professionals from each agency has created a synergy that is saving more lives than ever before.
The importance of early access to 9-1-1, early CPR, early defibrillation and access to post resuscitation care, have been emphasized by the American Heart Association for decades and many communities have each of these elements in place. But survival rates for people who experience sudden cardiac arrest remain extremely low. Historically, each agency involved in treating the sudden cardiac arrest victim approached this challenge from their singular perspective. While this enabled them to perfect their specific areas of responsibility, it lacked a unified approach to providing patient care. Surviving sudden cardiac arrest not only requires that dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, nurses and physicians excel in their individual fields, but they must also excel in supporting each other's efforts.