EMS Rapid Response vehicle allows for quicker care in a crisis

O'Fallon paramedic Ricky Palmer, who was the first to patrol in the new rapid response vehicle, shows off some of the features within it. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’Fallon paramedic Ricky Palmer, who was the first to patrol in the new rapid response vehicle, shows off some of the features within it. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon EMS has a new vehicle designed to enhance emergency medical treatment and get patients care significantly faster.

The new rapid response vehicle is a roving vehicle, constantly moving throughout the city, much like a police squad car performing a patrol. According to EMS business manager Jeff Wild, the idea is to reduce the amount of mutual aid calls in O’Fallon and bridge the gap of time between when a call comes in and when an ambulance can arrive.

“We had around 165 mutual aid calls in O’Fallon last year. We had to rely on another agency to support us 165 times. With the new hospital we’ve reduced that number, but what we’re hoping is that the quick response vehicle it can be another layer to help offset that, as a proactive approach similar to law enforcement,” said Wild.

The vehicle runs on a 12-hour shift three days a week. The program has only been going for two weeks now, but it has already been showing signs of success.

“There was one call we received where a paramedic was a block away from an emergency and was able to quickly respond and help, and keep the Shiloh ambulance in their district instead of bringing them all the way here,” said Wild.

The rapid response unit is equipped essentially the same as an ambulance. The major difference is it can’t transport patients and doesn’t have a stretcher.

“It has everything an ambulance has just in smaller quantiles. We are the first responder. When we get there, we initiate treatment, we stabilize patients, and, if the situation is serious enough and time is of the essence and need another ambulance to come in, we can help bridge the gap between treatment and the transporting unit arriving,” explained EMS Supervisor Jeremy Sherman.

The paramedics that have been able to drive the vehicle have enjoyed themselves. They feel its a positive step for the O’Fallon EMS.

“It’s a wonderful asset to the city. We’ll be able to get to patients quicker. A good example is we had a call at the sports park. I was able to get there a couple minutes quicker than the other ambulance and start treatment. It provides so much more mobility throughout the city. Its a new learning process and I think only good things can come from it,” said Paramedic Ricky Palmer, who was the first to drive the rapid response vehicle.

“I really enjoy it. Its fun to be out in the public, having them see you, and learn about the care that we give. It helps us increase that first contact, so we can be there quicker than the ambulance and start that life saving treatment. We get that care initiated, then when the other truck arrives, we can get this one back out in the community and be ready for the next person who needs us,” said Paramedic Tim McClain.

Wild says that while the program is still in its early stages, the goal is to expand it out and use the vehicle more regularly.

“We’re looking to expand the coverage. Right now we’re only three days, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We hope to be able to extend that to potentially seven days a week,” said Wild.