Sunday, June 13, 2010

MCCAB Fire Rescue and Patient Outcomes

Fire, Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, and
Community Risk Reduction Master Plan
Public Hearing
November 29, 2009

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Fire, Rescue, Emergency Medical
Services, and Community Risk Reduction Master Plan. I am Sheldon Fishman, Chair of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB). With me is Gam Wijuntunge, MCCAB’s Parliamentarian and Chair of our Quality of Life Committee.

The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) strongly supports the mission of the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (MCFRS) to keep our communities safe and healthy. We applaud the dedicated and heroic efforts of MCFRS’ career and volunteer personnel in providing our county with world class fire, rescue and emergency medical services (EMS). The MCCAB’s comments on the Master Plan are intended to help build on this tradition of excellence.

In general, the MCCAB is pleased with the Master Plan’s emphasis on performance measures and ongoing performance improvement. This is in keeping with the County Executive’s use of the CountyStat program to foster outcome-focused performance management.

The MCCAB notes that the Master Plan, as well as the County Executive’s FY10 budget proposal, includes reducing residential fire deaths and injuries as an outcome-focused performance measure. Mid-County residents, particularly the many senior citizens living in the Mid-County area, have previously expressed support for reducing residential fire deaths and injuries. This outcome measure justifies the process-oriented measures included in the Master Plan such as response time goals for fire engines.

However, the MCCAB is concerned that no comparable EMS outcome measures are included. The MCCAB urges the County Executive to adopt EMS patient outcome measures as a new high priority recommendation in the Master Plan. Outcome measures such as survival to hospital discharge and other EMS patient outcomes should be considered. Process measures such as EMS response times should accompany these outcome measures provided they have demonstrated impact on the patient outcome. MCCAB recognizes the technical complexity of patient outcome measures and recognizes the additional legal and regulatory requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). We recommend coordination with stakeholders such as hospitals in developing practical outcome measures.

The MCCAB sincerely believes that the MCFRS saves lives and contributes significantly to our quality of life in Montgomery County. However, we must be able to measure that contribution and to determine how it can be improved. A Master Plan which focuses on measuring this impact can only improve the MCFRS, improve the quality of life of Montgomery County citizens, and assist with the wise allocation of County resources.

We urge you to incorporate these important changes into the 2009 update of the Master Plan.

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