December 2012 In This Issue: • West Operations • From the desk of the COO • From The Desk Of The General Manager • East Operations • World Reports Affect EMSA Medics • Support Services • Communications • MMRS • Meet Your Coworkers • EMSA Plans Holiday Parties • Kudos • Media Roundup • Heroes Blood Drive
Take Care Of Others…And Yourself By: Joe Wallace, Director of Operations, EMSA Western Division Happy Holidays to you all! It’s this time of year that causes many to reflect on family and other relationships that we have created over the years. Having been here since 1993, the number of connections I’ve made is beyond my ability to track. So, to my 2012 “family” I say thanks. Thanks for your service, your professionalism and your dedication to doing what we do. This is without a doubt oftentimes a thankless job, but not from your operations supervisors, other members of management or from me. We are grateful for you every day. I’ve told many of you that I take comfort and pride in the fact that I live, commute and spend 90 percent of my life within our service area. I trust all of you with the lives of my biological family. I’m not really sure that anything else I could say would compare to that statement that I just made when it comes to how I feel about you. The world turns daily. We go about our lives with meetings on my end... post moves, calls, answering 911 calls, and caring for people’s needs on your end. We’ve all got this thing we call a job. However, always remember that people are our business and during this time of year, giving of ourselves is just a little more in the spotlight. I’ll tell a little joke here. One of those jokes that has a point... A young man trying to make ends meet finds it tougher and tougher to do so. He has a wife at home and two young children. No matter what he does, he just can’t ever seem to get ahead financially. He prays to God one day... asking if there is any way he could help. He pleads to win the lottery... swearing that he will give half of his winnings to charity. Lottery day comes and goes without the windfall of money. A few days pass and another lottery day comes and goes. Again, no money. The young man prays again and asks God why he hasn’t helped. He pleads his case again declaring his pledge to donate half of his winnings to charity. He explains that he thinks he is deserving because he is a church-going, family-loving, hard-working man. In despair, he finds himself sitting at the end of his prayer sobbing when he hears a voice from above say, “You gotta help me out here and actually buy a ticket.” Take care of others... it’s what we do. But always remember that taking care of yourself is not something that can be done passively.
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From The Desk Of The COO I would like to first take this opportunity to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication to our patients over the last two months. We have experienced recent changes in the matrices that govern our response time compliance. As a result, we have made adjustments to our unit hours and have had to â€œlearn as we goâ€? regarding how to appropriately adjust our schedule to be successful. We asked for your help to fill shifts and you responded. Your efforts have helped us continue to provide timely and top quality patient care to those we serve. For that I commend you and truly appreciate your effort.
John Peterson COO
Help is on the way! Our December academies are filling up quickly and within just a few short months we should have our staffing right where we need it to be. We are making a commitment to decrease your workload while maintaining pay and benefits. This is shown through our hiring initiative as well as in the successful implementation of the 42-hour workweek in Tulsa. Meetings have begun to design the new 42-hour workweek schedule for Oklahoma City. As soon as the schedules are available we will share them with the union as we work together toward this benefit in OKC. Major positive change like this takes time, diligence, commitment, and methodical planning. Please be patient with us as we work through the process. Lastly, we will be doing insurance benefit renewals for 2013. CIGNA will continue to be our medical insurance carrier; there are no changes to our health care coverage for 2013. The annual premium increase will be slightly under 5 percent, which is one of the lowest increases we have seen. With regard to dental insurance, we will be changing from Guardian to CIGNA with more information to follow. Please keep an eye out for benefits guides that will be provided from the HR department that will help explain our benefits. Happy Holidays! As always, be safe out there!
Focusing on Safety – Yours! By: Jim O. Winham, BSN, RN, NREMT-P, General Manager As many of you are aware we have placed a great emphasis on safety. Simply put, we must always focus on being safe. You and your partner are a team and each is a safety officer with the duty to report anything you may feel is unsafe. In EMS, you are put in danger almost daily. EMS safety is paramount because if you can’t stay safe, you cannot help your patients and they are counting on you to do just that. Remember these general tips, and remember all of us are counting on you to be safe, to take care of the patients, and to go home after every shift. Stay Together Never enter into a home or apartment building on your own. You never know what you might find and could be exposed to severe danger such as violence, weapons or disease. Wait for your partner or team. Always Wash Your Hands Be hyper-vigilant about washing your hands. As an EMS agent, you are regularly exposed to germs and bodily fluids that are not your own and possible infection or disease can be passed to you or from you to another patient. Utilize Street Safety Wear reflective gear, have a spotter on busy roadways, turn vehicles to block access and always be aware of the danger of oncoming traffic. Drivers are more concerned with what they may see than EMS safety so it’s up to you to be proactive. Keep Safety Equipment Easily Accessible Keeping safety equipment easily accessible is important for seasoned members as well as new members who may need further reminders to use it. Safety equipment such as eye protection and gloves should be found in plain view on the truck and in your possession when you need them. Hanging safety equipment by the door is a good practice so you see it as you disembark. Hand sanitizer should be available both on the truck and in various visible locations as a regular reminder against germs. Reflective gear should be stored in a location visible and quickly accessible as you get off the truck. Understand Conditions Can Change (Situational Awareness) Your environment can be safe one moment and dangerous the next. Understand that it can change rapidly and be on guard. You may be in the truck cruising one moment, and responding to an accident the next. When you arrive on scene you may be stepping into a violent situation or a chemically hazardous situation. Be prepared for anything. Allow Law Enforcement to Handle Violence If a patient or bystander becomes angry or violent, it’s best to put distance and objects between you and them and allow the police to intervene. If they aren’t there yet, get in your vehicle and wait for them to arrive. Speed Kills Arrive Alive.
A Note From John Smith, Director Of Operations I would first like to thank everyone at EMSA for the warm welcome I have received during my first few weeks here. I cannot express how excited I am to be part of such a great team here at EMSA. I recently was able to ride along on the ambulance and experience firsthand the daily operations in Tulsa. I will say from my short time spent on the streets I was impressed by the level of professionalism and clinical excellence I witnessed. I plan to be on the streets as much as possible so if you happen to see me please don’t hesitate to say hello. For those of you in Tulsa or those visiting Tulsa please stop by my office anytime and introduce yourself if you have time. I look forward to working with each of you as we continue to set the bar for EMS service. John Smith Director of Operations Eastern Division
World Reports Affect EMSA Medics The following is an excerpt from an article written by News Editor Holly Wall and published by This Land Press on November 30, 2012. The full article is available online at emsablog.com. The Tulsa World’s reporting on EMSA is negatively affecting how front-line health care workers in Tulsa are able to perform their jobs. The paper has been investigating EMSA’s billing policies since February—the most recent story was published Oct. 25—when it realized, after combing through open records requests, that a handful of EMSA customers were taken to small claims court after they failed to pay their bills, even though they were enrolled in the agency’s utility bill program. What the reports failed to mention, however, was that the customers were not taken to court for out-of-pocket costs; rather, they owed money not paid by their insurance providers because they failed to deliver requested information. Additionally, some had opted out of the program, or didn’t provide correct contact information. …Kelli Bruer, a spokesperson for EMSA, told This Land that EMSA conducts 130,000 transports each year, and only about 230 accounts—less than 0.2 percent—end up in small-claims court. On average, anywhere between 40 and 80 percent of all medical bills contain errors, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. And though the investigation centered on EMSA’s billing practices—including travel expenses and contract bidding processes—the agency’s quality of care, which is in the top 1 percent of the nation, has never been called into question. Even so, EMSA’s medics have received backlash from World readers who don’t seem to understand the distinction. Lindsay Holloway, an EMT Basic who’s been with EMSA for five years, told This Land all of continued on page 5
continued from page 4 the medics she knows have been victims of some snide remark or refusal of care because of the reports published in the World. Some of that stems from a January report that matched the first and last names of 109 EMSA medics to those of convicted felons. EMSA refused to provide the paper with its medics’ middle initials or dates of birth, saying that information wasn’t subject to the Open Records Act, so the reporter ran criminal background checks of every EMSA employee by first and last name. “Without dates of birth and other identifying information, there is no way to tell how many of the employees, if any, are felons,” she reported. Now, an EMSA employee might walk by someone and hear a remark like “There goes the felon,” Holloway said, even though EMSA’s hiring policy prevents the agency from hiring anyone with a felony. The reports that followed have caused the public to lose trust in the medics who arrive to treat them in emergency situations, Holloway said. Medics have trouble getting necessary information, like Social Security numbers and addresses, and some have refused treatment. “I was working a Drillers game and we had a couple of patients and one guy wouldn’t give us any of his information,” she said. It was hot outside, and the patient refused to be treated. “Some people are rude from the start,” Holloway said. “They’ll say, ‘I don’t want you touching me.’ It makes it more difficult for us to do our jobs.” Joshua Choate, a paramedic who’s worked in the emergency medical industry for 10 years and for EMSA a year and a half, said he’s had upwards of a dozen patients refuse medical care until they’re certain he has their insurance and TotalCare information and that they won’t receive a bill for he services he’s trying to provide. That’s a problem, he said, because it puts those patients’ health in danger. “I had to explain to them, ‘I’m not worried about desk stuff; I need to take care of you,’ ” he said. “I need to get them hooked up to a monitor and run some tests, so I can figure out what’s going on and give them more treatment to keep them out of danger.” Choate said he’s also had to explain EMSA’s billing processes to patients—despite the fact that they have nothing to do with him—before they’d let him treat them. And that’s on top of the general hatefulness that often comes his way when he’s seen out in public in uniform. He’s been cursed by strangers on more than one occasion. “(The World stories) do have a negative impact on (EMSA medics) because people look at us and say, ‘They messed up my billing because they’re the ones I see,’ ” he said. ”We’re the ones out there; we’re the face of EMSA… So it does affect us and make people perceive us differently, no matter what the intention was.” Chase Coates said he’s also been on the receiving end of rude comments from people associating him with the negative news they’ve read in the paper. “Every once in a while you get the person who doesn’t respect the help you’re giving to them or their family member,” Coates said. “You’re still able to put that aside and concentrate on the patient’s care and patient’s health. You prioritize that. That’s always our No. 1 concern.”
Support Services: Remember the 5Rs of giving medication As you know, we are in the middle of a drug shortage at the manufacturing level. There have been multiple rumors about why there is such a shortage of critical medications and the excuses have ranged from the lack of profit to FDA regulations. I’m guessing the truth is somewhere in the middle and involves both sides of the spectrum. No matter the reason, the fact remains the same, we have a shortage of medications at the field level. With the shortage comes different packaging and concentrations. Please be very careful when administering your medication. Pay special attention to the task at hand when giving any medication. Don’t forget the 5 Rs of giving medication: 1. The Right medication 2. The Right dose 3. The Right patient 4. The Right route 5. The Right time The shortage doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon and we will continue to see different packaging and concentrations. I know it’s frustrating and can increase the chances of a medication error. We are doing everything we can to get back to “normal” or at least stay as consistent as possible. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at the information below: John Graham, NREMT-P Director, Support Services EMSA/Paramedics Plus 2323 S. Walker Ave. OKC, Ok 73109 (405) 297-7030 (O) firstname.lastname@example.org
SSC Candidate Selection By Eric Callender, Western Communications Manager I want to take a minute and talk about the process of hiring new, full- and part-time system status controllers (SSCs). We have recently revamped our process to help us select the best candidates for the SSC training program. There are several steps involved in the selection process, which are listed and explained below. 1. Application Period The job of an SSC is so specialized, we historically only do internal postings for candidates. Once the application period closes, we move on to the CritiCall Assessment Testing. 2. CritiCall Assessment Testing This is the newest step in the process. This computer-based testing gives us the ability to see how you function in a fastpaced environment with multiple sources providing you information at any given time. This test will be in conjunction with the candidates mandatory observation shift.
Congratulations to Tulsa’s newest system status controllers EMTs Matthew Rook (from left), Sarah Courtney and Shamus Tilton.
3. Mandatory Observation Shift All candidates must complete the mandatory observation shift before being selected for the interview process. 4. Interview The top ranked candidates from the CritiCall Assessment will be scheduled for an interview. 5. Candidate Selection Once the interviews are complete, the panel will discuss the results of the selection process to select the four best candidates to begin training. The training program allows us to bring in a maximum of four candidates at a time (two on days and two on nights). Once you are assigned a communication training officer (CTO), you will start your training. Because of the amount of training you must successfully complete, we only offer full-time training. Even if you are selected for a part-time SSC slot, you will train based on a full-time schedule. To take a candidate from assessment to fully released SSC can take as long as 12 months to complete. This all depends on the individual. Everyone has a unique leaning style. We try to work with the candidates to make sure we are maximizing the training process. It is important to know that the first 90 days of training are the most critical. This is when the training team must make a decision if the candidate is making progress and if it is in the best interest of the department to continue the program or discontinue the program based on a lack of progression. We spend a lot of money doing everything we can to help the candidates become successful SSCs. The training is very regimented and designed for success. There are several facets of training that each candidate must master in order to successfully complete the SSC Training Program. I hope this helps shed some light on how we select our SSC candidates. I encourage all of you that have an interest in learning another facet of our system to watch for the application periods to open up. Congratulations to the newest additions to the Tulsa SSC family: Matthew Rook – EMT with EMSA since June 2010 Sarah Courtney – Started with EMSA as an EMT in April 2003. Transferred to TReC in April 2010. Shamus Tilton – New EMT starting this year with EMSA
EMSA in Lawton? No, EMSA does not provide 911 EMS services in the Lawton area, nor is there any intent to do so in the future. EMSA does, however, provide a vital preparedness and response capability for Lawton, Ardmore, Altus and 17 counties in southwestern Oklahoma. In 2003, OSDH asked EMSA to set up the same MMRS type program in the state’s third largest population area: Lawton. Through the development of the Regional Medical Response System, the Lawton project has grown to cover the 17 counties in Homeland Security Region 3. There is a MERC in Lawton located at the Great Plains Technology Center. The planning and response coordination growth has succeeded over the years primarily due to the efforts of one person - Bob Stewart. Bob came to EMSA after serving 23 years as an army medic with combat experience in Desert Storm. He retired out of Fort Sill as an E-7 and was highly recommended by local community leaders. Since joining EMSA, he has worked tirelessly to get hospitals, EMS agencies, public health agencies, emergency managers and public safety agencies all at the table to plan for disasters and public health emergencies. He manages a cache of emergency supplies and equipment located in the region. During a disaster, Bob helps coordinate the medical system response from the Lawton MERC. With 25 hospitals spread across 465 square miles, Bob is constantly on the road. Although he works mainly with other OSDH personnel in the area, Bob also receives help when needed from the rest of the MMRS personnel in OKC and Tulsa. He single-handedly has taken on an enormous challenge and succeeded benefitting the patients in Region 3 and placing EMSA in a positive light in SW Oklahoma.
EMSA plans Christmas events for employees To thank all employees keeping our communities safe this holiday season, EMSA has arranged for free Christmas day meals at establishments in both the East and West divisions. East division employees are invited to enjoy a meal on EMSA at Bishop’s located at 51st and Sheridan in the Farm Shopping Center during their hours of operation on Tuesday, Dec. 25. West division employees are invited to enjoy a meal on EMSA at the Denny’s locations at 3024 S. I-35 or 1100 E. 2nd St. in Edmond during their hours of operation on Tuesday, Dec. 25. Additionally, plans have been finalized for holiday parties in both the East and West divisions. East division employees are invited to a holiday party at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Park Inn near the Tulsa Airport. West division employees are invited to a holiday party at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14 at the Biltmore Hotel.
Meet Your Coworkers East: Medic Jayme Goad How many years have you been in EMS? A little over three years. How many years have you lived in Tulsa? I grew up just north of Tulsa in Sperry, but I'm a born and raised Oklahoma girl! How did you get into this field? EMS always sparked my interest, especially in high school. As my then husband got into volunteer firefighting and started his EMT class, I realized I still had fascination for it so I enrolled in class, got my license and here I am. Your favorite part of the job? My favorite part would definitely have to be the friends I've made. They've pretty much become my second family and I don't know what I would do without them. Your least favorite part of the job? My least favorite part would have to be seeing people suffer. We see in one day what most people will go a lifetime without seeing. It takes unique individuals to handle such things. What do you do to de-stress? My best de-stressors are putting on my headphones and hitting the gym or going for a run. And eating chocolate cures everything! What type of experience do you have in EMS? EMSA is my first and only EMS job. I still feel like I'm trying to gain experience in this field because it changes everyday. I'm always learning something new.
Meet Your Coworkers West:
PMED Tim Smith and EMT (soon to be PMED) Holly Westin Years in EMS? T: Two and a half; H: Five Years in EMS in OKC? T: All; H: Four at EMSA and one in Norman ED How did you get into this field? T: I originally wanted to go the route of fire department, but didn’t get hired. I had my EMT and started PMED school while working at Sherwin Williams. Once passed, I wanted to use the PMED and took a small pay cut to work as a EMT then PMED. H: I worked in the ER at Norman and did a ride along with EMSSTAT. I was in college at the time at OU. EMSSTAT wasn’t hiring EMTs at the time so I applied at EMSA. What is your favorite part of being a medic? T: Talking with patients and learning about their lives and what leads to their needing us. Holly adds that Tim is especially easy to talk to and enjoys helping his patients beyond the medicine. He likes to truly make a difference in their lives beyond the emergency. H: Meeting people. Creating bonds with your partners. Your partnership is sacred. You go through these immensely stressful experiences and often times the only other person who can relate is your partner. Tim and I used to have an “EMS Bucket List” of calls we wanted to run. For example, we like the airport and jail. We wanted to see a MVC where both cars were worth over 100K each. We wanted to run a call at the new Devon tower, deliver a baby in an elevator, save an animal, run a exotic animal bite or odd nasal obstruction. Stuff like that. I love taking funny pictures of people sleeping. Least favorite? T: Late calls. H: Missing family stuff and important events due to shift work. What do you do to DESTRESS? T: Golf, small-group-time and church. Holly says refinishing furniture, but Tim contests that it is more work than play. H: I do Crossfit. I like to cook and do crafts. Hang out with friends. Where has your career taken you experience wise? T& H: You learn that society is not like “everyone gets a trophy” as many may think. T: If you let it, the job can make you callous. H: It’s brought me out of my shell. Getting very private information from patients and asking invasive questions is hard but has helped bring me out of my shell. T&H: Holly does most of the talking because I am not that outgoing, but it has taught me about how peoples’ situations can be a result of their relationships with the world and the needs they may have. Favorite part about OKC? T: The people. I love it here. I have lived here my whole life. I am invested here in the community. H: You get more rooted being from here. Running calls in the community you grew up in makes a difference. T&H: It can still feel small here, but it is huge and we enjoy watching it grow. H: Well, it is an easy place to get around, but I really love the Thunder. H: When I worked in Mustang (I am from there) we get to do the things with my community like Friday night football games in the unit while standing by for the city.
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November Kudos & Commendations Ethan Coe Mariam Fisher Joshua Conrad Jonathan Davis Jamie Jones Mike King Luke Koenig Megan Koenig Jonathan Mulenga Ethan Perkins Annamarie Pontius Tyler Williams David Cox Cliff Hood Ray Tarr Amanda Weaver
December Anniversaries Christopher Dent - 25 Leroy Limke II -11 Julie Paulson - 4 Laura Knowlton - 11 April Robinson - 15 Michael Stefko - 20 Joseph Triplett - 1 Jo Ann Williams - 8 Katherine Triplett - 11 Tristan Hall - 14 Brent Behles - 5 Clinton Howard - 5 Robert Stewart - 21 Joseph Eduvigen - 3 Donald Hayes III - 11 Michael Scalf - 5 Phillip Basham - 14 Jonathan Davis - 11 James Henson - 28
continued from page 10 Least favorite part about OKC? T: Too spread out. Responding to the outer skirts. H: I wish we had more entertainment options. T&H: The roads are horrible. The highway interchanges stink. Where are you from? T: We have determined OKC, but specifically the northwest side of town. H: Mustang/Yukon area. What other talent/professions/degrees do you have? T: Furniture and carpentry. Holly says he is good at color selections since he used to work at Sherwin Williams. He leads a small group at church and has a degree in firefighting. H: Went to OU and majored in history and minored in secondary education. December Birthdays Clifford A. Hood Matthew Jordan Steven Leissner Richard Tran Steven Williams Artie T. Coffman Michael Kennell Christopher Kondos Gary Stika Tommy Zamora Daniel Brown Terri Knight Jonathan Davis Michele Cole Diane Cooper Stephen Barteaux Gavin Beck Ashley Cole Mitchell Duncan Zac Cunningham Brian Sisco James Hart Tiffany L. Kendell Christopher Mcelroy Tyler D. Meyer Amanda Sebring Andrew Core Derrick Mcnutt Aaron VanHorn Kathleen P. Miller Thomas Baker
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Dayan Inclan Laura Mckeen Rusher, Deborah Kristen Baker Ziad Alkak Melissa D. Head Cynthia Ring Patrick Watts Kara Dildine Ali Nikoomanesh Mary Gruber James H. Williams II Dale Carey Steven D. Lloyd Michael W. Parrish Holly Westin Colby W. Oldham Dwayne Givens James Henson Christian Perry Russell Martin Chad Moser Michael Byers Megan Koenig Kelly Smith Jonathan Penick John Steward Jason Cedar Matthew Ruskoski Carol Bohach Michael S. King Jr.
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November Media Roundup: Links to the following stories can be found online at emsablog.com H.U.G.S. Drive Fox 23 News reported about the final EMSA H.U.G.S. drive on Nov. 7. The online news story was posted with the headline, “EMSA holds last HUGS drive.” Bixby Hub The Tulsa World followed up on the impact of the fully launched Bixby hub in servicing Bixby and the south Tulsa area. The original headline was “EMSA’s new Bixby hub helping improve service in busy area” and was published on Nov. 12. Kudos to EMSA Urban Tulsa Weekly published an article in the Nov. 14 issue outlining all the positive work EMSA, and its team of public servants, do to keep the community safe. The original headline was “Saving You: Setting the record straight on EMSA.” EMSA Recruiting Veterans The Tulsa World published a story on Nov. 20 regarding EMSA’s efforts to recruit veterans. The article headline was “EMSA among employers seeking out veterans.” Holiday Decorating Safety The Oklahoman and News 9 spoke to EMSA about safety precautions to take when installing holiday decorations. The print article headline was, “EMSA urges care while decorating” and was published Dec. 1, while the News 9 story aired on Nov. 26 and was posted online as “EMSA offers tips for safely installing outdoor Christmas lights.” Effects Of World Reports On Medics Several EMSA medics were interviewed by This Land Press in an article reporting the negative impact the Tulsa World’s investigative reports have had on EMSA medics trying to do their job. The original headline was “World Reports Affect EMSA Medics” and published on Nov. 30. Future Story Ideas We are looking for employees who have unique holiday traditions that have resulted because of being a shift worker and/ or employees who are doing charitable acts this season for individuals they have connected with through their job. If you fit either of these descriptions, please email Kelli Bruer at email@example.com.
Save the date: Heroes Blood Drive Dec. 21 The American Red Cross will be holding a Heroes Blood Drive on Friday, Dec. 21 at the American Red Cross located at 10515 E. 11th St. All available EMSA employees are asked to consider giving blood. Blood drive hours will be posted as soon as they are available. Page 12