Hospital's EMS named state's first 'model system'

December 12, 2006
In late 2002, New Hanover Regional EMS became the state’s first “model system” as designated by the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services. It was the first of such designations to be earned by an EMS service in North Carolina and set New Hanover Regional EMS apart as leading the state in emergency medical services. Since 1998 and despite being busier than ever, New Hanover Regional EMS continues to cut its response time and arrives to emergency calls anywhere in the county in less than 10 minutes, 90 percent of the time. Responding to more than 29,000 calls each year, New Hanover Regional EMS has improved its cardiac save rate to more than 36 percent. This means a person having an acute heart attack somewhere in the county has a 36 percent chance of surviving, compared to less than a 1 percent chance in previous years. As a model system we continually look at all aspects of pre-hospital care, from continuing education to equipment to vehicle placement, always searching for ways to improve our service. said Patricia Fields, Assistant Chief of EMS, Field Operations and Communication. The model system designation came as part of a revision of state rules and regulations requiring all North Carolina counties to work toward designation as an EMS system or a model system. For the purposes of model designation, a “system” includes all emergency medical agencies in a county, or in this case, the 911 Center, Wilmington Fire Department, New Hanover County Fire Department, the volunteer fire departments, Ogden-New Hanover Volunteer Rescue Squad, and ambulances at General Electric and KoSa. The lead agency’s ability to collaborate with other agencies is a major component of the model system. “Each level of care provider is held to a standard,” said Fields, “All pre-hospital providers in New Hanover County know what the standard is and how to meet the standard. The model system plan outlines how we all will work together to achieve and maintain these standards.” New Hanover Regional EMS was asked to be the first hospital-based system to apply for model status. After eight months of preparation, it requested a review and earned designation as the state’s first model system. New Hanover Regional EMS provides 911 response, critical care ground transport through VitaLink, critical care air transport through AirLink, inter-facility transfers, basic transport services, bike teams and shore-based water rescue teams as well as VitaLine and Regional Communications. In 2004, VitaLink received the Critical Care Ground Award of Excellence from the Association of Air Medical Services. It was one of only two programs in the nation to earn the honor for leadership in the field. AirLink recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and 2,000 hours of safe air transport.To learn about employment as a paramedic with New Hanover Regional EMS, call 910.343.4800.

What is a "model" system?

The state Office of Emergency Medical Services provided four primary differences between an EMS system and a model system. They are:
  • Universal levels of patient care. A model system provides the same standard of care anywhere in the county. The standard here is paramedic-level care.
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch is available in model systems. New Hanover Regional EMS encouraged New Hanover County last year to implement priority medical dispatch.
  • Model systems bring together public health, other providers and the community in providing pre-hospital care.
  • Model systems have a higher standard of equipment and available medications.