Initiating a Nurse Practitioner Pilot Program for LAFD
Posted by Mitchell Englander on January 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM
This week, I was proud to partner with Councilmember Paul Krekorian to direct the Chief Administrative Officer, in consultation with the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City and the Fire Department to report back on the resources it would need to develop a Nurse Practitioner Pilot program for Los Angeles.
The City of Los Angeles is at a crossroads. Year after year, the volume of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) calls handled by the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) increases. In 2013 alone, the LAFD responded to 339,379 EMS calls. At the same time, the number of emergency room beds in Los Angeles has failed to keep pace with the increased demand. This situation has resulted in long delays both for patients awaiting beds and for LAFD personnel who are required to accompany a patient until a bed is available.
Non-urgent, low level 911 call requests can be screened by LAFD Firefighter EMTs and rerouted to nurse practitioners within the LAFD organization. In their scope of practice, nurse practitioners can perform comprehensive on-site assessments and perform, treat and release, or treat and transfer. By implementing a nurse practitioner program into LAFD's EMS protocols, it should be possible to reduce unnecessary and expensive emergency transport. A similar program in Mesa, Arizona, the Physician Extender Program, has shown that employing nurse practitioners provides quality care and saves millions.
Without reconsidering LAFD's current EMS response protocols, the imbalance in the system will continue to grow resulting in both higher costs for taxpayers and longer delays for patients. The City of Los Angeles needs to develop a more efficient, coordinated, and integrated approach to delivering health care.
-Mitchell Englander, Councilmember Twelfth District