RICHMOND, Va., November 17, 2016– The Richmond Ambulance Authority is the 2016 Governor’s Emergency Medical Services Award winner for Outstanding EMS Agency. The Governor’s EMS Awards were presented Saturday night during the 37th annual Virginia EMS Symposium in Norfolk where the winners were given a trophy and a certificate signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“It is a tremendous honor to be named Outstanding EMS Agency of the year by Governor McAuliffe,” said Chip Decker, CEO of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. “Richmond Ambulance Authority constantly strives to provide the finest prehospital care to the citizens of Richmond in a cost efficient manner, and our entire organization appreciates this recognition of our efforts.”
Richmond Ambulance Authority was selected for this award based on numerous achievements locally, nationally and internationally and overall contributions to the development of EMS. In 2016, RAA had its busiest year ever with more than 65,000 calls for service, an increase of five percent over the previous year, with no loss in operational performance or response time reliability.
RAA’s partnership with the Richmond Public Schools (RPS) was also noted. When the recent ‘Gwyneth’s Law’ was signed by then Governor Robert McDonnell requiring all graduating high school seniors to be qualified in CPR, RAA stepped in to support this inside the City of Richmond. RAA conducted a survey to determine the number and locations of all RPS
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and provided the assistance needed to equip and bring RPS up to the appropriate level of defibrillators. RAA then trained RPS health and physical education staff as American Heart Association certified CPR instructors to equip them with the requisite skills to teach the graduating classes.
RAA’s approach to teaching CPR has evolved over the years from an annual Great Days of CPR event to a weekly, on-request activity. RAA has partnered with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) to deliver CPR to every new tenant entering RRHA housing. Since January 1, 2016 alone, more than 1000 citizens have received training. RAA also has a Latino outreach CPR program where classes are taught in both English and Spanish.
In terms of clinical education and the promotion of best practices, RAA hosts the US Airforce Pararescue program for two-month clinical rotations, providing these USAF Special Operators with field experience and clinical placements. RAA also runs a Pan American Trauma Society fellowship / observer program for trauma surgeons from Central and South America in order to help them understand the operations of a true trauma system which includes EMS, hospital and public health. In addition, RAA provides Masters level academic lectures to graduate students and offers assistance and mentorship for thesis projects.
Over the years, RAA has created a number of signature programs to contribute to wellness, injury prevention and health. The RAA led motorcycle rider safety program, Rider Alert, celebrated its fifth anniversary in early 2016. Since its inception, the Rider Alert program has spread from Richmond to numerous states throughout the country and also internationally. Seven countries now have Rider Alert, and the program is currently being implemented in Australia. Today, more than 2 million Rider Alert cards have been distributed worldwide. The Crossing Alert campaign launched by RAA in 2012 continues to provide inspiration for other localities to prevent distracted texting and driving via its attention-grabbing public service announcement video which remains available for all to use.
RAA also has an ongoing staff wellness program that ranges from trained Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) staff members to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). An example of these programs in action occurred during the March 2016 incident at the Richmond Greyhound Bus station in which a Virginia state trooper was killed. All RAA staff involved in the incident, whether it was patient care or incident command, were taken out of service as soon as possible, debriefed and offered immediate CISM. These management actions were gratefully received and a positive experience for all involved.
Staff are also supported in their personal and professional development, and the RAA staff wellness committee continues to deliver great programs such as the RAA Vegetable Garden,
made available for all to grow fresh herbs and vegetables. This was initiated at the request of RAA employees who live in apartments in and around the city and had no other outlet to grow fresh produce.
The 2016 Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding EMS Agency comes on the heels of numerous other prestigious awards won by RAA. In the past 12 months, RAA was named the national Career EMS Agency of the Year by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians’ (NAEMT) and EMS World. RAA also received the American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline Gold Award, for its excellence in rapidly treating heart attack patients and improving patient outcomes. Additionally, individuals within RAA have received national recognition for excellence including an EMS10 Award, given to the 10 top innovators in EMS throughout the nation each year, and an American Ambulance Association (AAA) Star of Life Award. RAA itself is the only governmental agency in Virginia to have received accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) and also have its communications center named an Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch.