CentraCare Health beefs up ambulance coverage

CentraCare Health-Monticello’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department added a third ambulance and additional coverage hours earlier this week.
Gordy Vosberg, CentraCare Health-Monticello EMS director, explained the public safety-related changes to Monticello City Council members last Tuesday.
“We’re adding 40 unit hours per week to our primary service area, which is Monticello, Big Lake, Becker and the corresponding parts of Sherburne and Wright counties,” Vosberg said. “In 2012, the average response time for an ambulance on a Code 3 response call was 5.37 minutes in the city of Monticello. We had  a call volume of 1,569.” Vosberg said. This year, 1,794 EMS requests are projected with call response time increasing to 7.76 minutes.
CentraCare Health-Monticello EMS ambulance schedules are determined by call data analysis. EMS conducts an annual review of its unit hour utilization data which is then compared against previous year’s data, Vosberg said. CentraCare identified the need for additional hours following its January unit hour analysis.
Additional ambulance hours will be Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Those hours prompted a hypothetical query from Councilmember Glen Posusta. If I have a heart attack at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, does that mean you won’t get to me until noon?” Posusta asked. Vosberg said no, that wouldn’t be the case, because CentraCare Health-Monticello EMS has two units on seven days a week, 24 hours a day. “This new truck will be what we call a power truck,” Vosberg said. “It addresses some higher volume periods. We are putting that third ambulance on to cover those times,” he added.
Mayor Clint Herbst had a question related to higher call response times. “When you see response times go up, is it because you have two ambulances out?”
Vosberg replied: “That’s exactly it. We take that data and run it. It will tell us the percentage of an hour that our ambulances are engaged in run activity. When it reaches a certain trigger point, say 45 percent of a hour, you add an additional unit hours to address that issue.” Vosberg said CentraCare Health-Monticello EMS previously tested the third ambulance unit hours from January to March. “The CentraCare Health-Monticello administration has been extremely supportive of the EMS Department since the affiliation agreement was approved,” he added. “We look at this data annually, and we review it every January. We noticed the spike in response time and call volume. It takes several months to get the staffing hired. We’ll adjust vehicle locations if needed to meet response times.”

Contact Managing Editor Tim Hennagir at tim.hennagir@ecm-inc.com

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