ALF Ambulance Decreases Response Times, Saves Money for Lakeville

From 2008 through 2010, Apple Valley, Lakeville and Farmington ambulance response times decreased nearly two minutes on average, according to data from Allina Medical Transport.

Editor's note: This is the first of two stories about Apple Valley Lakeville Farmington ambulance services. Check back on Wednesday to read about ambulance equipment and trends in ambulance calls.

More than 5,000 times a year, an ambulance in Apple Valley, Lakeville or Farmington screams out of its station and rushes to help save a life.

Since 2009, Allina Medical Transport has been responsible for these ambulances and the paramedics they carry. The service they provide has become more efficient and has saved the participating cities money, according to ALF Ambulance administrators.

When ALF Ambulance was established, the idea was that the three municipalities could save money and provide better services to their citizens by collaborating. Both those ideas still existed in 2009 when ALF contracted with Allina.

Allina organized ALF ambulances differently when it came in, with one more ambulance staffed from 8 a.m. to midnight than ALF did when it was run by the cities, paramedic Brian Sturz said.

ALF ambulances also now use a method of operation called dynamic deployment, which resulted in a nearly two-minute average decrease in ambulance response time from 2008 to 2010, according to an Allina report to the Lakeville and Apple Valley City Councils.

Apple Valley addresses make up the largest share of ALF ambulance calls, likely because there are more businesses that attract workers and customers, said Jeff Czyson, operations manager for Allina Medical Transport.

"In a dynamic deployment model paramedics are sent to a base location, but when they are assigned a call, one or more of the other ambulances move to a different location ... to optimize coverage," Czyson said. "The dynamic deployment model is less comfortable for the paramedics, but it shortens the response time to calls."

Allina also has provided a larger staff of paramedics, more flexibility in service and more appealing shifts for the paramedics, said Dennis Feller, Lakeville’s finance director.

ALF used to have 24 paramedics who each worked 24-hour shifts. Allina now staffs ALF from a larger pool of paramedics working mostly overlapping eight-hour shifts, though 12- and 16-hour shifts still exist, Feller said.

Working with Allina also benefits the cities financially, administrators say. ALF doesn’t pay Allina for ambulance service and Allina pays to lease space in city firehouses, Feller said. He put the cost savings to ALF at 50 cents per resident, which is more than $25,000 in savings for Lakeville.

Contracting with Allina also has provided opportunities for public education. Allina provides training for police, firefighters, parks and recreation staff and the general public. According to the ALF 2010 Education Report, Allina helped train 616 Apple Valley, Lakeville and Farmington employees and more than 900 members of the public in first aid, CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators in 2010.

A program in Lakeville is already ongoing ,and Apple Valley is also scheduled to begin a progrram during this year’s July 4 festivities, according to the report. The program will focus on compression-only CPR instruction and using an AED.

Education programs likely will increase in importance as Minnesota’s population ages. Allina's report to the city councils noted an increased demand among patients 45 and older in the past year.

"The Baby Boomer generation is our largest, and as they age, the demand on our nation’s entire health care system increases," Czyson said.

maureen donovan June 14, 2011 at 06:51 AM
On March 10th, 2011, I had to have an ambulance called for me at 3:25 am. I was having problems breathing due to asthma and left lung filled with fluid. I was also turning blue due to the lack of oxygen. The police came and informed us that the ambulance was on its way. When it did arrive, they loaded me into the back of the ambulance. They were still trying to stabilize me at that time. When it was time to leave, the ambulance died in our driveway. They tried to start the ambulance, but said that they have been having problems with it for a while due to a bad alternator. After multiple times trying to start the engine, they decided to call for another ambulance. About 20 minutes later, another ambulance arrived. They were removing me from the first ambulance to the second. Meanwhile, the driver from the other ambulance worked on the dead vehicle and finally got it started. They decided to keep me in the original ambulance and take me to the emergency room. I was hoping that this ambulance would not break down on the way to United Hospital in St. Paul, which was 20-30 minutes away.


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