November 23, 2021 – Today, the Oklahoma City Council unanimously voted to approve EMSA’s plan to initiate Basic Life Support (BLS) tiered 9-1-1 ambulance service. Tulsa’s City Council approved the plan two weeks ago. Adding 9-1-1 BLS ambulances, which are staffed by two Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), to EMSA will allow its Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances, which are staffed by a minimum of one Paramedic and one EMT, to increasingly be available for life-threatening medical emergencies.
The 9-1-1 BLS ambulances will only respond to designated non-life-threatening calls, determined through information gathered by emergency medical dispatchers from 9-1-1 callers. These calls were selected by the EMS system’s independent Medical Control Board/Office of the Medical Director (MCB/OMD) by analyzing all 1,952 medical call types used in the EMS system. MCB/OMD selected only 110 call types for 9-1-1 BLS (5.6% of the 1952) based on both low acuity in clinical condition and further reflected through paramedic assessment and treatment decisions.
In calendar year 2020, the selected 9-1-1 BLS call types constituted 22,672 calls out of a total of 231,609 calls to which EMSA responded. These 9-1-1 BLS ambulances will be additional ambulances in service, not replacements of ALS ambulances.
“We believe initiating 9-1-1 BLS ambulances will allow our paramedic resources to be available to better meet the needs of our patients, especially those in the most serious situations,” EMSA President & CEO Jim Winham said.
EMSA plans to deploy these 9-1-1 BLS ambulances within the next 14 days, pending the completion of additional training for more than 70 experienced EMSA EMTs.