Prolonged EMS response times are a significant problem in rural areas. In this study, VHF radios and personal medical kits were placed in the private vehicles of rescue squad members. By coordinating the responses using radios, higher level EMTs were sent directly to the scene to initiate patient assessment and other procedures while others proceeded to an unstaffed station to pick up the rescue truck.
Using this response system, EMTs arrived at the scene prior to the rescue vehicle on 30 of 35 calls (85.7%). In 25 of 35 calls (71.4%), the first person at the scene was at an advanced EMT level even though the majority of responses (56%) were made by Basic EMTs (p<0.001). The mean response time for EMTs using privately owned vehicles was 9±4 minutes (means±SD) compared with 16±9 minutes for the rescue truck (p<0.01). There also was a significant difference in response times between the privately owned vehicles and the rescue truck when the time between the receipt of the call and the initial acknowledgement of response was measured (1±1 minutes vs. 7±3 minutes; p<0.01).
An effective EMS response can be made in rural areas by sending EMTs directly to a scene in private vehicles. Providing EMTs with VHF radios and personal medical kits enhances this response.