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EMS WORLD - Pinellas gets a brand-new bag
A change to uniform response bags helps Florida departments work together seamlessly.

By John Peterson, MS, MBA, EMT-P

 

As call volumes rise and calls become ever-more complex, EMSand fire-rescue agencies more often work together to provide patient care. This is especially true for Sunstar Paramedics, the ambulance provider for Pinellas County, Fla.

Sunstar operates in a dual-response system with 18 fire agencies in the county. This model has been effective for providing rapid and high-quality care to the county’s nearly one million residents and 5–7 million visitors a year. While the dual-response approach has many benefits, it can also create challenges when separate agencies work closely together. Pinellas publicsafety leaders recognized one of these challenges—locating needed supplies from other responders’ bags when on scene—as the local fire departments and Sunstar worked together on calls.

Evaluating a Change Sunstar Paramedics and each of the 18 fire agencies previously designed and stocked their own response bags. And because they often used each other’s supplies on scene,finding necessary materials could sometimes hinder the fastest possible care.

For example, response bags could be different colors for different organizations. So a red bag could be for trauma for one fire department and for airways for Sunstar Paramedics. This forced crews to interrupt care to ask where things were in other agencies’ bags.

After recognizing it as a challenge, the Pinellas County EMS and Fire Administration began to evaluate the possibility of creating uniform response bags for use by all first responders in the system. But this systemwide change could not be implemented overnight.

Leaders began to hold discussions around the benefits and downsides of uniform bags through surveying county paramedics and EMTs. Their consensus was that not only would uniform bags save time, they would also reduce the possibility of mistakes.

As more agencies weighed in, the benefits added up, and the county decided tomove forward with the process of creating uniform bags. When it did, previous design flaws were taken into account.

Designing the New Bags

The county started the process of designing new response bags with an original set of gear from the manufacturer, StatPacks. Then it customized the bags with input from

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