On the Job with Ada County EMS

On Friday, April 3, I did a “ride along” with an Emergency Medical Services supervisor. It is said that when there is a rider along, the department usually has an unusually quiet day. Such was not the case on this day. As we went from station to station, calls came in very near to wherever we were. I was able to witness some of Ada County’s finest paramedics in action, and rode in on the ambulance to the hospital with them a couple of times, as well.

The most dramatic moment of the day came around 3:30, when we were stopped at a red light at the intersection of Emerald and Cole and two cars collided right in front of us. The airbags in one vehicle deployed and one man was knocked unconscious. My tour guide for the day, EMS Supervisor Clinton Wolf, immediately sprung to action contacting dispatch and taking control of the disturbing scene. The recorder in the supervisor’s vehicle in which we were riding caught the whole thing on video. It is being provided to the Boise Police Department, the agency responsible for investigating the collision.

Unlike sitting in my office and in meeting after meeting, ride-alongs* prove to be a useful tool for gathering information and finding out more about the daily challenges faced by our public safety employees. In years past, I have had the privilege of doing ride-alongs with Ada County Sheriff’s Deputies, Boise Police Officers, and the Firefighters at downtown Boise Fire Station 5 on a Saturday night. Ride-alongs provide an informal opportunity to receive input from the crews on the street, as well.

On Friday, I learned several things. Although not all earth-shattering, in running the best operation we can, they are all issues that need to be addressed:

• The fan in the women’s restroom at Glenwood has a ball bearing problem.
• The computers used by EMS are not all uniform, and their level of functionality varies from time to time from station to station.
• The paint on the “Ada County Paramedics” sign on the EMS station in Boise’s North End, which we borrow from the City of Boise, is peeled and fading. The crew is willing to sand the sign down and re-paint it. I don’t know why they have not been allowed to do so thus far, but it sounds like a cost-effective way to address a simple, yet worthwhile, project.
• There are some issues between Ada County EMS paramedics and medics with some of the fire agencies that should be addressed. For example, there are some differences between the Standing Written Orders of the agencies. I plan to meet with the medical directors to try to work through the differences.

*Grammatically, it should probably be “rides-along” but the phrase as I have always heard it is ride-alongs.

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