EL CENTRO — Imperial County’s Public Health Emergency Medical Services representatives were present at the El Centro Regional Medical Center’s board meeting September 23 to introduce a new American Medical Response program.

According to healthcare officials, toward the end of July, AMR started providing ground critical care transport services — a nurse level transport similar to what one would see in an air ambulance provider, but in a ground ambulance.

Some of the less time-sensitive illnesses and injuries are probably better off going by ground ambulance than by air ambulance.

“A typical ambulance that one sees running everyday 911 calls is staffed with a paramedic and an EMT,” said Emergency Medical Services Manager at Imperial County Public Health Chris Herring. “The new AMR ambulances are staffed with nurses, which allow a wider range of medications and procedures that those nurses could perform which are not included in a paramedic’s skill of practice.”

The goal is to make sure the patient gets the right level of care at the right time.

“It’s less about how expedient the transport is and more about the level of care provided in the back of the ambulance,” said Herring. “It’s really about continuing some of the more advanced medications and procedures that the hospital started during that transport.”

Organizers expressed how the ultimate goal is decreasing the chances of further injury and illness to each individual patient.

“This is just another step that our county and ambulance provider are taking to improve services, not just on the 911 side of it, which is very important to us, but also really through the full continuum of care to get that patient from the scene of an emergency to the most advanced care that they need,” said Herring.

According to EMS, this service has been provided here in the past, however, this is the first time we’ve had a provider that is locally staffed.

AMR has hired local nurses, making this a local resource instead of relying on out-of-county resources.

The service is funded by direct patient billing from the ambulance provider through patients' medical insurance.

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