As a regional approach to treating Ebola patients develops, the role of the nation’s emergency medical service and transport fleet will take on more significance.
“We're going to be moving more and more of the patients from Point A to Point B, either by ground or by air,” said Dr. Edward Racht, chief medical officer at Greenwood Village, Colo.-based American Medical Response, which transports more than 3 million patients a year in 4,200 vehicles operating in 40 states. “This has changed the landscape very quickly and intensely, and everyone is trying to figure out how to manage this emerging threat.”
An AMR ambulance transported one Ebola patient from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas to the airport on Oct. 15 and another the next day. Racht said the process took nearly 10 hours per vehicle. Preparing each vehicle took four hours, the trip took one and a half hours, and it took another three to four hours to decontaminate and sterilize the vehicle after transport.
“The process is very checklist oriented and specific, so you don't miss any steps,” he said.