System Redesign – EMS Update #1


Based on some recent developments, it’s the right time to provide you with some follow-up on our EMS system redesign process.  There’s a lot of uncertainty floating around our EMS system these days. We feel it too.  We’re dealing with some complex and difficult issues that don’t lend themselves to easy fixes.  We’re continuing to work on these issues on two tracks. First, we’re working to stabilize the system so that we can sustain our current level of operations and support the important work all of you are a part of.  Second, we’re ramping up with our consultant to obtain stakeholder input and data to guide the “next generation” EMS system design.  Those two tracks are separate efforts and we have to keep working hard on both.

Last week we went to the Board of Supervisors with a plan to provide Paramedics Plus with some financial relief – relief which would have lessened the financial losses accrued by Paramedics Plus.  We didn’t get the votes we needed for that plan to go through.  We will continue to work with Paramedics Plus and County leadership to come up with a mutually agreeable solution that will provide the stability we’re looking for.  If we can get this part of the challenge resolved, it will go a long way toward providing a better atmosphere for the redesign and planning process.  If we can’t, it makes our challenge more difficult.  There’s no doubt about that.  No matter what though, our system is going to keep operating.  We’re still hopeful we can work this out however.

The consultant chosen by the County is Citygate Associates. Both principals, Stewart Gary and Michael Petrie, are experienced, knowledgeable – and smart. Stewart Gary is a former fire chief from Livermore-Pleasanton and currently serves on the Livermore City Council.  Michael Petrie has decades of EMS leadership experience and has served as the EMS Administrator in San Francisco, Santa Clara, and now Monterey counties. Citygate has also subcontracted with a financial services firm to do some of the fiscal analysis of our system – which is so crucial. As I said in the previous letter to you, we have to understand the finances as well as the operational and clinical aspects of our system.  Revenue challenges are a very important factor to consider as we go through this redesign process.  The consultants will be meeting with a number of stakeholder groups over the next several months to get your input.  Please participate in that process as much as you can.  It’s going to be vitally important that we hear from a wide variety of system stakeholders.  The better informed we are, the better job we’ll do at helping to design a system that makes sense financially and continues to provide excellent care to our patients.  We all want that.

This is a tough time in our system.  Our system is busier than it’s ever been. The financial challenges we’re facing are not unique to us but we’re experiencing them acutely.  Alameda County is always in the forefront of operational and clinical innovation.  Unfortunately, we’re also in the forefront of those same financial challenges.  These are big challenges to overcome.  As I’ve said before, we will overcome them – because we have to.  There will be disagreements along the way.  There will be differing opinions on the way to go.  In the final analysis, we all want the same thing.  We want an EMS system that we can be proud of.  We also want an EMS system that puts patients first.  If we can all keep that goal in mind, we’ll come out on the other side of this period in our system’s history in good shape.

ems-strongWe understand the anxiety and stress that this situation adds to an already stressful job.  As mentioned, it is vital that we stabilize the system in the short term.  It is perhaps even more vital that we stabilize the system going forward, for the long term.  You, as our EMS providers, deserve nothing less.  Please be assured that the EMS workforce, no matter what your position, be it field or supervisory, are of paramount importance to us.  There will always be a place for you in ALCO if you want to work here.

Fred Claridge
EMS Director

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Alameda County EMS is a high performance EMS system located in the Bay Area of Northern California.There are over 140,000 9-1-1 call each year in the system.
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