Mercy Ambulance d/b/a Chatham EMS operates in the Savannah, Georgia area on the Atlantic coast. There are two regional military bases in the area. Last year, Mercy Ambulance d/b/a Chatham EMS signed a historic first-ever partnership agreement with the U.S. Army for Military Flight Medics (Nationally Registered Paramedics) to ride along on our civilian ambulances.
The Military Flight Medics get to hone their medical skills with non-trauma patients, assist or lead patient care under our Medical Director’s protocols, assist with lifting and become familiar with civilian EMS.
This will help them transition to a civilian EMS career after they leave the military. The military pays them and takes all liability responsibility for the Army medics while they ride along. There was very little cost to Mercy Ambulance Service!
Both the Military and Mercy Ambulance had their own goals for this pilot project. Under this ground-breaking agreement, the Military Flight Medics get to:
- Hone their medical skills by seeing more patient condition diversity (beyond trauma) and an increased amount of patient contacts;
- Become more involved in serving the local community, and
- Becoming familiar with civilian EMS – to help them transition to a civilian EMS career after they leave the military.
Mercy/Chatham’s goals were to:
- Have additional caregivers on board our units;
- Have assistance with lifting and transferring patients;
- Have minimal expenditures and no increased liability, and
- Hope to recruit skilled paramedics when they leave the military.
Planning & Implementation
We entered in early discussions with the local Army Air Base’s Flight Surgeon. He sent the idea to US Army leaders in Washington, DC and Medical Command in Texas. It took nearly nine months for US Government approval of our concept and written agreement. Once approved, we immediately signed an agreement.
After a brief orientation, Military Flight Medics began riding third on Mercy ambulances within two weeks.
We exceeded our goals. Not only did we have excellent additional medics on our units, we also had lifting assistance for all patients. There was very little expense to our company!
The Army medics wore their camouflage uniforms (which always prompted interesting queries from the patients and their families). They were paid by the government and covered for any liability by the US Army as well.
We exceeded our goals because 16 of the military medics signed up with us as part-time employees! This improved our normal staffing by adding 16 part-time paramedics to our team!
Another unforeseen benefit of this partnership was that another regional Military base found out about our pilot project and we signed a second agreement with the other military command for Military EMTs to also ride along on Mercy ambulances at no cost!
Having experienced and disciplined military flight medics ride along has improved our workforce morale. It has also increased our labor force at very little additional cost.
The flight medics have helped teach our personnel about military trauma care and we have taught them a lot about civilian EMS. Our crews also appreciated the extra help on their scenes.
Another unforeseen benefit of this project was designing the American Flag Ambulance. It is constantly being requested for public events and parades. It has been a huge, positive public relations hit in our community!
We had a budget of $5,200.00. There was a small proposed budget for wrapping an ambulance to look like the American Flag ($3,200.00 actual cost). We also initially budgeted for uniforms and associated equipment ($2,000.00) for the flight medics. The Military however insisted that they provide everything the soldiers would need at the government’s expense. So, our out of pocket expense was only for the custom ambulance wrap of $3,200.00.