LETTERS: Cardiac survival rate results from collaboration

To the editor:

American Medical Response is proud to be a key part of the emergency medical system that has produced outstanding cardiac survival rates year over year, helping save the lives of thousands of Las Vegas and Clark County residents.

Unfortunately, in John L. Smith’s Tuesday column, “Fire &Rescue spars with AMR,” Las Vegas Fire Chief William McDonald’s assessment of Las Vegas’ cardiac survival rate is inaccurate and misleading.

The 2013 National Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) data that is used to determine the survival rate is not yet published. It won’t be released until late next month. Chief McDonald also confused the overall survival rate with a small subset of that data.

When it comes to making important decisions that will affect the health care of thousands of residents, we should be working with final figures, not preliminary data, and we should be accurate, comparing apples to apples.

AMR has worked very hard to increase this region’s cardiac survival rate, and we anticipate that the final 2013 statistics will continue to show improvement. But the bottom line is that when it comes to cardiac arrest, stroke and other significant cardiac events, the way to save more lives is to get caregivers on scene as quickly as possible. This is why we disagree with Chief McDonald’s action to base dispatch decisions in the city of Las Vegas on who the ambulance belongs to rather than on which ambulance is closest. When seconds count and lives are on the line, the patient has to be the number one consideration, not the name on the side of the ambulance.

The outstanding cardiac survival rates for Las Vegas are the product of the collaborative approach to high-quality emergency care that has marked the relationship between AMR and Las Vegas Fire &Rescue for 30 years.

Working together and sending the ambulance that is closest has helped save the lives of countless Las Vegans. AMR’s number one concern has always been the health and well-being of the patients we serve. We don’t see how these recent actions benefit the citizens of Las Vegas.

Scott White

Las Vegas

The writer is general manager of American Medical Response.