WASHINGTON — The DC Fire and EMS Department is changing the way it responds to 911 medical calls.
Instead of an ambulance showing up to haul you to a hospital, the emergency operators and first responders are going to asses needs and connect patients to the necessary care.
The goal is to improve health outcomes, shorten wait times in hospitals, and make sure first responders are available for serious and life-threatening emergencies.
WUSA9 rode along with Captain Sharon Moulton, who is a supervisor with DCFEMS, during a serious call at an apartment complex in Southeast.
“CPR is in progress,” a call came out over the radio.
A man was having a heart attack.
“I’m going to go in,” Captain Moulton jumped into action.
We could hear the team of first responders at work.
“They’re coming. Yup."
“You have an Epi in already, right?”
“Checking for a pulse.”
The patient’s heart stopped before paramedics arrived, but first responders were able to get his heart beating again.
He was rushed to the hospital and survived.
The situation WUSA9 witnessed is the kind of issue the department wants first responders freed up for – a serious issue like a heart attack.
Starting March first, the DCFEMS Department is changing the way it responds to 911 medical calls.
Here's how it will work.
A person would call 911 and based on the issue, there are three options.
First, nothing changes if you have a life-threatening emergency.
An ambulance will show up and take you to the hospital.
For the second option, an operator may connect you directly with a registered nurse.
That medical professional would determine if you need to go to a clinic or if your situation calls for a trip to the ER.
Lastly, if an operator is not sure of how severe your call is, they will send a fire/EMS first responder to check you out.
A worker would then connect you with a nurse who will figure out what kind of care you need.
DCFEMS has identified participating clinics in every ward of the city.
The operational changes could save some patients money because an ambulance ride could cost hundreds of dollars.
- Basic Life Support (BLS) Emergency: $428
- Advanced Life Support (ALS) Emergency: $508
- Advanced Life Support (ALS-2) Emergency: $735
- Mileage (per loaded mile): $6.55
- Transport mileage is measured from the incident location to the receiving hospital.
Depending on your insurance, the city will provide vouchers for a taxi or ridesharing service to and from clinics.
CLICK HERE for more information on the program or text ‘DC RIGHTCARE’ to 468311.