This month’s high performance profile is Huron Valley Ambulance (HVA), a nonprofit service that has distinguished itself as being high quality and achieved CAAS certification for service in southeast and south central Michigan. HVA was created in 1981 as a nonprofit organization by five hospitals in Washtenaw County following the failure of several previous commercial ambulance services there. The hospitals invested $2 million dollars in the new ambulance service, purchasing new vehicles, equipment, and facilities. New leadership and staff were hired and advanced life support service was begun in early 1982. By 1984, the ambulance service was breaking even financially and gaining the trust and support from the community.
The owner-hospitals asked community leaders to volunteer to serve on the HVA Board of Trustees and they continued to improve service delivery. Once they were successful in their goal of stabilizing emergency medical services for county residents, the hospitals gave HVA to the community in 1985 as a free-standing nonprofit, charitable organization. Although no longer HVA’s owners, the hospitals have continued to play a part in the governance and success of the organization ever since.
The HVA Board of Trustees has always placed accreditation as an important achievement and measure of quality. Additionally, emergency response times and driver safety are recognized as being important to patient outcome as well as a measure of meeting community service expectations. HVA has a benchmark of providing a response to life-threatening emergencies within 10 minutes (urban) and 15 minutes (rural), 90% of the time. HVA has consistently met this goal for 30 years and even publishes a Performance Dashboard on their website. The response time is calculated from the time the patient’s call is received until the paramedic arrives at the address. Exceptions in this measure are included in cases which are beyond HVA’s control, such as ice storms, trains blocking roads, and unsecure situations where the police must make the scene safe.
An important tool to help HVA continue to meet response time standards has been MARVLIS from BCS. John Vary, Technical Services Manager at HVA, said that “the implementation of MARVLIS has given our dispatchers a new way to visualize and position resources. An important aspect is in enhancing our placement of ambulances to safely meet our designated response times.” While there are many parts that must come together correctly to make an agency effective and perform with greater economic efficiency, advanced technology is clearly an essential part of the mix.