RICHMOND, VIRGINIA AUGUST 20, 2015 – The Richmond Ambulance Authority has been selected to receive the 2015 Dick Ferneau “Paid Service of the Year,” Award by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT). This award recognizes an agency for overall operational excellence in EMS.
The Dick Ferneau Paid EMS Service of the Year Award is sponsored by Ferno in honor of its co-founder, Dick Ferneau. Ferneau, who passed away in 2009, was a true pioneer of the EMS industry. From the time he was a teenager and until his death at the age of 90, Dick engineered many designs and concepts, many of which still impact the EMS industry today. He listened endlessly to the evolving needs of caregivers and first responders, and worked feverishly to develop innovations to help make their jobs safer, easier and more efficient. Dick was also a compassionate, servant leader who, alongside Ferno co-founder and chairman, El Bourgraf, made many local and global contributions as Ferno continued to expand its international footprint.
The Dick Ferneau Paid EMS Service of the Year Award pays tribute to agencies that exemplify Dick’s spirit and dedication to continuous improvement, and reflect his character as a humble and compassionate friend and philanthropist. Agencies are evaluated in the following areas: EMS education and training, innovations in pre-hospital care and protocol, community involvement, EMS system/program upgrades, worker safety, injury and illness prevention, and public education projects.
Richmond Ambulance Authority is one of the busiest ambulance services in the United States per capita, and despite this the agency still finds ways to ensure it is providing patients with the most excellent care possible. RAA covers 62.5 square miles, housing a population of 204,149 residents with a daytime population up to 800,000 as Virginia’s capital city. In 2014, RAA responded to about 64,000 calls, and transported 42,000 people to the hospital. RAA’s average response time in 2014 was 5 minutes and 45 seconds. In addition, emergency-response times were 95% compliant with standards for life-threatening emergencies in 2012.
“To be identified as the Dick Ferneau Paid Service of the Year is not just rewarding for this year, we feel this is like a lifetime achievement award, because we constantly strive to achieve excellence,” says Chip Decker, chief executive officer of RAA. “To receive this isn’t just about the year or the decade of work we’ve put in to be as good as we can be, it’s also about showing our efforts to have a workforce that’s happy, safe, engaged and clinically focused.”
RAA is an innovative agency with many programs that benefit patients and employees alike, having ran a number of very successful public health and injury prevention programs such as the successful “Rider Alert” motorcycle safety program that places identity cards inside riders’ helmets. This program, now a global collaboration, has issued over 1 million cards to riders around the world. RAA is also part of the USAF Pararescueman training “pipeline” and delivers clinical placement training to trainee PJs. It also provides fellowship placements for Central and South American-based trauma surgeons as part of the Pan American Trauma Society, where an overview of the EMS role in a busy trauma system is explained and demonstrated over two-week attachments where the surgeon is totally immersed into prehospital clinical operations.
In terms of patient care, RAA treats patients using inventive methods that increase quality of care. RAA uses mechanical CPR to provide consistent and high-quality chest compressions. RAA also uses therapeutic hypothermia during resuscitation procedures, which cools the body to preserve brain function. The cooling program (followed by appropriate post-resuscitation care) has resulted in nearly 12% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients to be released neurologically intact, compared to an 8% rate nationally.
“We are constantly looking to innovate,” says RAA Chief Operating Officer Rob Lawrence, “whether it’s participating in things like the freshly thawed plasma trial or cultivating a culture of safety in our agency. Safety is first and foremost, whether it’s vehicle training to remain accident free or our beneficial relationship with the police department. We see this culture as an innovation in and of itself, because this way we don’t have to reeducate people to be able to obtain this culture. We embrace this culture.”