RICHMOND, Va., October 7, 2015 – The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) has won the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians’ (NAEMT) and EMS World’s 2015 Dick Ferneau Career EMS Agency of the Year award. This award goes to one EMS agency in the United States each year for its outstanding achievements and contributions in emergency healthcare.
“The Richmond Ambulance Authority has been at the forefront of prehospital innovation and delivery for many years,” said Nancy Perry, editorial director of EMS World. “What is particularly notable about RAA is the agency’s willingness to share its research, findings and programs freely with the world of EMS to ensure we all benefit from its groundbreaking and thoughtful work. The Dick Ferneau award is an excellent way to nationally recognize and thank an organization that has such a global outreach and influence over the future of prehospital care.”
“To be named the Dick Ferneau Career EMS Agency of the Year is quite rewarding because we constantly strive to achieve excellence,” said Chip Decker, chief executive officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. “This award isn’t just about the year or decade of work we have put into being as good as we can be; it also reflects our efforts to have a workforce that is happy, safe, engaged and clinically focused.”
RAA was selected because of its innovation and many programs that benefit patients and employees alike. On the patient-care front, RAA was one of the first EMS systems in the nation to use mechanical CPR to provide consistent and high-quality chest compressions. RAA also uses therapeutic hypothermia during cardiac arrest resuscitation 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 being released neurologically intact, compared to the national rate of 8%.
“We are focused on innovation,” said Rob Lawrence, chief operating officer of RAA. “Whether it’s participating in clinical trials or cultivating a culture of safety in our agency, we constantly strive for excellence. Safety is first and foremost, whether it’s vehicle training to remain accident free or our beneficial relationship with our public safety partners. We see this culture as an innovation in and of itself, because we don’t have to reeducate staff to be able to obtain this culture. We all embrace this culture.”
RAA’s innovation also includes its vehicles which are equipped with solar panels to provide green power. This reduces overall engine idle time and fuel consumption, and thus cost, while making the fleet more environmentally friendly. RAA also recently implemented the FirstPass system. This new patient record software collects data from each call and allows RAA to track trends in clinical behavior, make adjustments and provide additional training to paramedics accordingly.
RAA’s focus on health also includes that of its employees. RAA provides a fitness program to educate staff about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. RAA Fit focuses on nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation and stress management. The program provides staff with recipe suggestions for healthy eating and has established a staff garden to grow fresh produce. RAA Fit also includes “Fruity Fridays” during which bowls of fresh fruit can be found around headquarters.
Community outreach is also an important part of RAA’s mission and culture. RAA partners with many organizations, including the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Richmond Office of Multicultural Affairs to teach hands-only CPR classes. Given the increase in Richmond’s Hispanic population, RAA also has given a series of CPR classes in Spanish, using bilingual instructors from RAA and local hospitals. RAA has also partnered with the Richmond Office of Multicultural Affairs and CrossOver Healthcare Ministry to start a train the trainer CPR program.
For years, RAA has had a significant impact on EMS internationally, most recently with its partnership with the Panamerican Trauma Society. Trauma surgeons from Central and South America come to Richmond to participate in this international observer program. They spend weeks at a time embedded with RAA to fully understand the role an EMS organization plays in the overall trauma system. Additionally, RAA serves as part of the United States Air Force (USAF) pararescueman training pipeline and provides clinical placements for these trainees at least once a year.
The Rider Alert motorcycle safety program, launched by RAA in 2011, has taken off on a worldwide basis. Rider Alert cards, which are placed inside helmets, have next of kin and contact information to aid attending EMS personnel or emergency department staff when a motorcyclist cannot communicate. Today, more than 1.2 million Rider Alert cards are in use and the program has spread to countries as far away as Sweden, Finland and Romania as well as the United Kingdom.
RAA also launched the Crossing Alert program after data showed the number of pedestrian-related incidents was increasing as a result of distractions, often related to the use of smart phones. To combat this, RAA created a YouTube video with a catchy beat and hip hop song about paying attention and being safe when crossing the street. The video quickly gained a following with nearly 9,000 views.
“We believe in paying it forward with our research,” said Lawrence. “If we learn or develop something, we don’t hold it close to our chest. We ensure our learning is passed along for the benefit of the entire industry, which ultimately helps many communities beyond our own.”
About the Richmond Ambulance Authority
In 1991, the Richmond City Council and the city manager implemented an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system that placed the patient first and guaranteed its performance to the City’s residents. Today, the Richmond Ambulance Authority responds to approximately 200 calls per day and transports, on average, 140 patients per day. RAA’s emergency response times are among the fastest in the nation with ambulances on the scene of life threatening emergencies in less than 8 minutes and 59 seconds in more than 90% of all responses. RAA is one of only 22 EMS agencies in North America accredited by both the Commission on the Accreditation of Ambulance Services and the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch. RAA is also a Commonwealth of Virginia Accredited Dispatch Center.