Cruz County Health Services Agency
What is Emergency Medical Services (EMS)?
Fire First Response – EMT Firefighters and Paramedic Firefighters respond first to emergency calls. They arrive on scene in fire engines or rescue vehicles.
h Ambulance – Transportation and pre-hospital care, staffed by Paramedics. Ambulance services include Advanced Life Support (ALS), in addition to other medically necessary transportation.
Helicopter Transport to Trauma Centers – Patients may be transported by helicopter to the nearest Trauma Center. Helicopter transports are staffed by Registered Flight Nurses (RNs). Santa Cruz County is served by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Regional Medical Center, and Stanford University Hospital trauma centers.
Hospitals Intake – Santa Cruz County has two emergency receiving hospitals: Dominican Santa Cruz Hospital and Watsonville Community Hospital. Pre-Hospital Care Providers coordinate the patient’s care with emergency room staff at the hospital. Emergency Medical Services hospital staff include Mobile Intensive Care Nurses (MICNs), and Physicians (MDs).
Quality Assurance and Data Management Systems – Includes the following committees in addition to data systems management and coordination with the State and Federal EMS systems:
The Santa Cruz Consolidated Emergency Communications Center
The Santa Cruz Consolidated Emergency Communications Center (http://www.sccecc.org/) is a Joint Powers Authority created by, and providing public safety and 911 dispatch services for, the county of Santa Cruz and the cities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Capitola. The SCCECC also provides services for nine Fire Districts, American Medical Response West (the paramedic and ambulance transport provider), and County SPCA. The County's Emergency Operations Center is located here.
Santa Cruz County filed its first state EMS plan in 1986. At the time, the county was served by a mix of ambulance providers. That was to change in the late 1980s. By then, north Santa Cruz County (county territory north of Freedom Blvd.) was dominated by a single provider, Pac Med. Pac Med’s sole proprietor purchased South County’s then-only ambulance company, A-1 Ambulance of Watsonville. Pac Med was later pooled into American Medical Response West (AMRW).
Since 1990, AMRW has been the sole 24-hour ALS ambulance transport provider in the county.
Population growth in Santa Cruz County has remained relatively stable, and the number of system transports has also been stable. The number of emergency system transports (not including transports initiated outside the 9-1-1 system) are reported as follows:
Currently, Santa Cruz County maintains an exclusive operating area, dual EMT-P, ALS system.
The ambulance contractor maintains ten ambulance station locations. From four to eight ambulances are deployed to anticipate and match the demand with the right number of ambulances on the road by day or week and time of day:
The county’s ambulance contractor also deploys additional units during peak demand times, such as holidays. In addition, the county’s contractor has staffed and deployed units as requested by cities or community based organizations at special events.Integrated Response
There are presently 14 independent fire agencies in Santa Cruz County, including two city departments. Five agencies maintain engine-based paramedic first response. The fire districts have formed the Emergency Medical Services Integration Authority, a JPA in order to centralize planning and quality assurance activities. No fire agency regularly responds with transport vehicles however three districts maintain licensed vehicles in case of disaster, and for mutual medical aid. Almost all firefighters (including volunteers) are EMT certified. The agencies represent a mix of paid and volunteer forces.
Various districts provide varying levels of first response service. For instance, valley districts provide first response on all emergency medical responses, while city districts only dispatch an engine to the more critical calls, as determined by approved emergency medical dispatch guidelines. (See Dispatch section for more detail).
Santa Cruz County is presently divided into 3 response zones.
Dispatch and Data Collection
Santa Cruz County has a computer aided dispatch center (NETCOM) serving all emergency agencies with the exception of one city police force, CDF and the California Highway Patrol. NetCom is a joint powers agency (JPA), of which the current ambulance contractor is a participant.
The county’s EMD uses an advanced medical priority dispatch system, approved by the American Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatchers. NETCOM dispatchers query callers on priority symptoms, dispatch appropriate units at appropriate response codes and give pre-arrival and post dispatch instructions to callers.
Since 1993, Santa Cruz County has collected patient care data using a computerized system maintained by the county. Currently paramedics enter patient data from each call. Collected data is compiled from the computerized database to produce a patient care report (PCR). The PCR is used as the contractor’s medical record, and compiled data is used to maintain quality assurance.
SCCECC is the primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for Santa Cruz County with the exceptions of the Police Departments of Scotts Valley and the University of California.
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