Most ambulances can be classified as ALS or BLS units. Soon a new acronym might become common to hear, NET for Non-Emergency health care Transport.
BLS or Basic Life support are ambulances staffed mostly by EMTs. These ambulances have oxygen, a basic defib unit and bandages to slow bleeding for any trauma.
ALS or Advanced Life Support are ambulances staffed with at minimum one Paramedic. These ambulances are equipped with advanced airway equipment, cardiac monitors, advanced cardiac life support equipment and blood glucose testing equipment.
The new NET ambulances will be staffed by at minimum someone who has passed a basic first aid class, or earned a first aid patch in boy/girl scouts. These ambulances will be equipped with bandaids, and little else. NET level of care will be for people calling for an ambulance when in fact they could transport themselves.
Chief Bob Roberts tells us why he he championing this new level of care. “We take a lot of people to the ER for minor issues. Usually it is an issue of their insurance will not cover an ER visit if they are not transported by EMS. Sometimes you get that jerk who thinks EMS equals no waiting room time. Why waste the skills of a paramedic or EMT on being a taxi service?”
Reading between the lines it is easy to see this is a cost savings for the city. The Chief would not outright say it but as EMTs are retiring he is not hiring EMTs to replace them he is seeking people for NET care rigs.
City 911 call takers are being trained to ask qualify questions when EMS is being requested. Based on the answers the appropriate level of ambulance will be given the call. Many other cities and private EMS providers are hopeful this new idea will work so they can adopt it in their jurisdiction.