A new pilot program by the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department aims to reduce the number of ambulance trips for nonemergency 911 calls, according to a Hospitals & Health Networks report.
As one part of providing the right care in the right setting, the city’s 911 operators are being trained to identify health-related complaints that might not require a full-blown emergency response. Those calls are transferred to a nurse who, with the help of computer protocol software, guides the caller to the right kind of care.
An operator may still rush an ambulance to a 911 caller or reassure the caller that this health issue can be dealt with by seeing a primary care doctor through a normal appointment process.
Or the operator may offer to send the patient to an emergency department or urgent care facility in an unexpected way: the ride-hailing service Lyft.
The Emergency Communication Nurse System and the nonprofit Southern Nevada Community Health Improvement Program have teamed up to fund a ride-hailing option via Lyft for callers who are using 911 because they simply have no other way to get to a hospital, urgent care center or doctor.
“Many of the 170,000 ED visits we see annually are due to a lack of access to primary care physicians in our community. So, clearly a great many of these visits are a result of few alternatives, which also extends to the scarcity of urgent care facilities in our immediate service area,” says Jeff Murawsky, chief medical officer of Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.
Because the pilot program has only been active for just over two months, the department is not yet looking at hard data, but if it proves successful in safely eliminating some unnecessary ambulance trips McCrea hopes it will be expanded from its current 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. availability and cover a larger geographic area.