Written by Amanda Hauser ’19
This summer I have had the opportunity to work with the Madison County Department of Emergency Management. The department has grown over the years to handle the many aspects of planning for disasters while also supporting local emergency responses and helping to keep people safe before an emergency can occur. Everyday they indirectly serve every community in Madison County and even communities outside the county, as large scale emergencies deplete rural resources quickly and multiple counties often have to share and work together. The department works together with other Emergency Management departments of different counties in order to understand their struggles–such as a shortage of paramedics and EMTs in the region–in order to come up with solutions to help everyone. In everyday work, the department keeps in contact with county and fire agencies to ensure that they are receiving all the help they need, whether it is training or additional resources. The department itself is very interconnected; even though each member is assigned to different tasks and projects, they all work together to share advice and their different viewpoints.
In my time with Emergency Management I have learned how they plan for the unplannable and how the department works to improve safety in Madison County on a day to day basis. Their office is filled posters that outline the different processes to deal with emergencies, such as flooding or an active shooter. These posters dissect the entire scenario from pre-incident to a return to normal. These simple posters illustrate a complicated plan that will keep everyone on track, preventing any ommission of even the smallest detail in a worst-case scenario. However, because emergencies don’t happen everyday, the posters also focus on prevention, then revision of 911 policies for dispatching ambulances, and the distribution of free CO2 monitors.
My role in the department so far has centered around organizing ambulance “chute time” data as a way to improve emergency medical services. Chute times are the time from when the 911 center dispatches an ambulance to when the ambulance physically leaves the station and heads to the emergency. These times are very important to the agency and the patient because it can vary depending on staff and volunteers and is the only part of an agency’s response time that can be controlled and reduced. I have been looking at data for life threatening medical calls, such as cardiac arrests, strokes, and major traumas, because of the necessity for quick response time for these calls. This project was based on a similar professional study of EMS that showed a need for reduced chute times in providing quality patient care. The data I have collected so far has shown that some agencies in the county have longer chute times, thus delaying care. This data provides a direct image of the problem in the county and points to a need for change, about which discussions have already started.
I joined the Upstate Institute this summer with the goal of gaining a fuller understanding of the surrounding area and providing a service to better my community. My time at the Department of Emergency Management has done just that. I have learned so much about the area and the problems it faces, as well as about local successes. I hope to continue to learn more about the department, the county, and the future direction of EMS during the rest of my summer. I have enjoyed working on this project because it fits into my future goals of pursuing medicine. I have been involved in EMS and have volunteered on an ambulance for the past three years and my experience with Emergency Management has created a greater understanding and appreciation for the system, and has greatly influenced my interest in pursuing Emergency Medicine after Colgate.