When you call 911 for help, it activates a system of responders and caregivers. Local 911 centers use advanced dispatch systems that triage calls and provide callers with important medical instructions. The closest resources to the emergency are selected based on GPS coordinates and are dispatched while the caller is given lifesaving instructions on what to do. First responders are dispatched along with the ambulance to provide medical care until the ambulance arrives. All ambulances in Wake County are staffed with paramedics, the highest trained pre-hospital caregiver. Paramedics use advanced skills, medications and procedures to stabilize the patient before they are transported to one of the six local emergency departments. This system of responders and caregivers makes up the Wake County EMS System. Altogether, there are two 911 centers, 25 fire departments who provide first responder service, and five EMS providers.
The Wake County Medical Director, Brent Myers, MD, MPH, is responsible for the medical oversight of all clinical care provided in the EMS System. Dr. Myers is also the director of the Department of EMS and oversees the five EMS providers in Wake County.
In March 2003, the EMS System began using an Electronic Call Reporting system (ECR) from Healthware Solutions. The ECR system and laptop computers allows for faster patient care documentation and billing.
In May 2003, the Wake County EMS System was designated a Model System by the State of North Carolina's Office of EMS. The Wake County EMS System was the third system designated with this honor. This designation will afford the System special privileges under State rules, including less regulatory oversight and longer credentialing periods for its personnel. The Model System designation is similar to accreditation, ensuring that the EMS system is providing the best service to Wake County.
In early 2005, Wake County converted to a digital Motorola Smartzone 800-Mhz system for all communications. This will allow for different agencies, such as fire and EMS, to talk to each other at the scene of an emergency.
Induced Cooling by EMS, or ICE, was started in 2006. This pioneering procedure increases survivability in post-cardiac arrest patients.
In 2007, Wake County implemented a system-wide closest-vehicle dispatching system that uses GPS-based automatic vehicle tracking and in-vehicle MARVLIS navigation. The EMS System was also recognized for its groundbreaking cardiac arrest survival rates.
Advanced Practice Paramedics hit the streets in January 2009. This program, in partnership with public health, seeks to make the EMS System more efficient by reducing the occurrence of, or minimize, medical crises for people with specific medical conditions.