A new evaluation process is intended to ensure emergency personnel have the knowledge and skills to provide the latest standard of care and give Sedgwick County residents reassurance they will get standardized, high-quality care no matter where their emergency or trauma occurs.
Late last year, acting on the recommendation of the MSSC EMS Physicians Advisory Committee, the MSSC Board of Directors approved a policy requiring a physician attestation process for EMTs and paramedics. The EMS Physicians Advisory Committee, led by Dr. John McMaster, consists of local doctors who are also MSSC members. Under the policy, any EMS medical director operating in the county is charged with setting up a system to confirm the competency of EMS providers. To comply, the Office of the Medical Director revised its credentialing process and will be conducting competency reviews of most county pre-hospital providers. By going through credentialing, participants will meet all requirements of MSSC attestation policies.
“Everybody participating in 911-based patient care is going to be evaluated for their medical knowledge, their understanding of the Medical Society protocols, and the physical skills of the equipment and procedures we use in our business,” said Dr. John Gallagher, Wichita/Sedgwick County EMS System medical director. “This is the first time we have it structured into these categories and applied uniformly across all service agencies to make sure everyone meets the minimum standard.”
The medical knowledge and protocol tests are written exams, while physical skills will be tested and signed off by designated skills verifiers trained by the medical director’s office. The office runs a simulation center to train and evaluate advanced EMS personnel in their abilities to manage real-world patient care situations. The center, now in Bel Aire, will get a new home when the office relocates next spring or early summer to Murdock Street downtown.
Agencies participating in this ongoing evaluation process include the Wichita Fire and Police Departments, Sedgwick County Fire District #1, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department, Sedgwick County EMS, Derby Fire Department and Airport Police/Fire. In addition, Mount Hope and Clearwater are looking into joining the system.
“It is a huge step forward that we now have all of the major agencies signed on to participate in the credentialing process,” said Dr. Gallagher. “Our primary goal is to guarantee a minimum standard that can be expected and predicted throughout the county. Under this process, anyone who has a medical or trauma emergency can count on receiving excellent standardized care no matter who responds. Patients aren’t interested in who responds; they want the same great care regardless of whose jurisdiction they are in.”
Under state law, a local medical society is responsible for setting protocols for emergency, pre-hospital care in a county. Here, that occurs through the MSSC EMS Physicians Advisory Committee.
“I’m grateful for the hard work of the EMS PAC and MSSC members in developing protocols and a new evaluation system,” said Phillip Brownlee, MSSC executive director. “I appreciate the cooperation and input of partner agencies. Everyone is working together to ensure residents receive high-quality medical care.”
“Everybody has agreed to participate,” Dr. Gallagher said. “Now we have the logistics challenge of making it happen. There are hundreds of providers for these services, and that just takes time.”
Departments will work the credentialing process into their training schedules, and all personnel taking care of patients will be evaluated every two years. Anyone with questions about the process should contact the Office of the Medical Director at OMD@Sedgwick.gov.