West Virginia: Improving Access to Emergency Medical Services
West Virginia is one of the most rural states in the eastern United States, so many residents live far from a hospital. When they have a medical emergency, West Virginians rely on local emergency medical services (EMS) to have an ambulance take them to a hospital. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (WVBPH) is responsible for ensuring that the ambulances used by the state’s 240 emergency medical providers are properly maintained and safe to drive. WVBPH used a portion of its 2014 Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funds to inspect the ambulances and train emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
Within 5 months, WVBPH inspected more than 1,200 ambulances operated by 77 EMS providers across the state. The inspections help WVBPH ensure that the EMS providers have ambulances that are safe to use and contain all the equipment they need to save lives.
Also during this period, WVBPH released new guidelines to help EMS providers improve their service to the public. The guidelines give directions for EMS providers to follow when responding to customer concerns, thus helping the providers prevent recurring problems. WVBPH trained about 50 staff from different EMS providers on the new guidelines, and who in turn trained 8,000 more EMTs at their organizations.
The PHHS Block Grant funding is helping EMS in West Virginia provide safe emergency transportation and lifesaving services for its 1.8 million residents.
Story year: 2015