Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Dempsey Benton

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: December 18, 2007

  Contact: Jim Jones

Grants of $1.6 million to speed, strengthen NC’s Emergency Medical Services

RALEIGH – The Duke Endowment has awarded a $1.6-million in grant to the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services (NCOEMS) to fund statewide performance improvement initiatives. The grant will support projects aimed at accelerating EMS system response times and will provide direct assistance to 26 North Carolina counties.

“Emergency Medical Services are a critical component of our health care system,” said Gene Cochrane, president of The Duke Endowment.  “North Carolina is fortunate to have such a strong EMS network and committed leaders who continuously seek to improve quality of care.”

On average, 19,000 EMS events occur in North Carolina each week – nearly 1 million annually. As the primary and initial points of contact for callers seeking medical assistance, EMS systems provide a range of services from instructing administration of emergency care to dispatching EMS Units/Ambulances.

“This is truly a win-win for the people of North Carolina, said Drexdal Pratt, chief of NCOEMS. “Local EMS providers are already doing a great job in responding to calls; this grant will provide the resources necessary to accelerate EMS response times even more.”

Greg Mears, MD, executive director of the EMS Performance Improvement Center at the UNC Department of Emergency Medicine, is also the medical director for the NCOEMS. He credits a five-year initiative within the NCOEMS in developing a statewide performance improvement database.  This information allows EMS systems to make decisions on how to optimize resources and provide the best service possible to North Carolina citizens.   

“Emergency medical services are the most complicated piece of the health care system,” Mears said. “North Carolina EMS systems must provide a timely response and quality patient care to citizens, often on a minimal budget. With limited funding, making the best decisions on how to apply resources and personnel is critical. With support from The Duke Endowment, we are now able to offer a level of assistance never before available to EMS.”

The 26 communities receiving grants were selected from among 59 applicants. Funding decisions were made with input from a committee of experts including representatives of the EMS Administrators Association, the North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Decisions were based on multiple factors, including each county’s readiness to implement proposed programs, its opportunity for improvement and local commitment to the effort. 

Applicant organizations used information from the database to identify areas where their county’s EMS speed and quality could be improved with adequate funding. Grants will be used to implement and enhance computerized emergency medical dispatch programs and to standardize policies and procedures regarding incident response.

Grant awards will be administered through NCOEMS with support from the EMS Performance Improvement Center, an organization established to provide technical assistance to state, regional and local EMS systems. Grants ranging from $31,000 to more than $150,000 are being awarded to Cherokee Tribal and to EMS agencies in the following counties: Ashe, Bladen, Caswell, Catawba, Cherokee, Chowan, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Granville, Harnett, Hoke, Lenoir, Pamlico, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Randolph, Stokes, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Wilkes and Yadkin.

The Duke Endowment, located in Charlotte, seeks to fulfill the legacy of James B. Duke by improving lives and communities in the Carolinas through higher education, health care, rural churches and children’s services.

For additional details visit www.NCEMS.org.



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Debbie Crane