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November 20, 2012 > A new sound for emergency response

A new sound for emergency response

By Kenny Jacoby

We've all seen them around, and we've definitely all heard them. But what are the green and white ambulances - sirens and horns blaring - doing in place of the previous ambulances?

The new ambulances belong to Paramedics Plus, exclusive Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Ambulance Transport Provider for Alameda County. Paramedics Plus emerged in Alameda County November 1, 2011, serving the county population, except for the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, and Piedmont. Paramedics Plus through its parent organization, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System (ETMC), also serves 3.6 million people in Oklahoma, Florida, and Indiana.

American Medical Response (AMR) had been the sole EMS provider for Alameda County since 1990 but advancements and improvements in the field created new performance expectations and reevaluation of the contract. The result was the introduction of Paramedics Plus in Alameda County. This change put an end to the red, white, and blue vans, replacing them with green and teal-striped biodiesel units with large, box-shaped patient compartments. However, most Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and paramedics staffing the new Paramedics Plus ambulances are former AMR employees.

Paramedics Plus is a non-profit healthcare system that has promised to cap its profits in Alameda County at seven percent annually. Stringent response times are also paramount in the new organization's goals. In October 2009, the most recent month at the time of Paramedics Plus' proposal, a response time of ten minutes or less was met 92.92 percent of the time in their Florida operations, and 92.58 percent of the time in their Oklahoma operations.

Dispatched by the Alameda County Emergency Regional Communication Center, operated by the Alameda County Fire Department, a novel feature of Paramedic Plus commitment to cutting edge technology is the Mobile Area Routing and Vehicle Location Information System (MARVLIS). MARVLIS is designed to save time and money by positioning assets at the right place at the right time. MARVLIS uses GPS and geographic information system (GIS) technology combined with mathematical precision to build a system status plan for ambulance placement. This means using traffic, geography, population, and demand density data to strategically place ambulances at locations where they are most likely to be needed.

Optimal unit placement helps Paramedics Plus to consistently meet its response-time standards. In addition to MARVLIS, Paramedics Plus also utilizes MARVLIS Client, an in-vehicle system that maps the locations of both the ambulance and the incident, providing drivers with an optimal route to reach the scene or hospital, while simultaneously providing updates on the status of a victim.

The Paramedic Plus contract in Alameda County extends until October 31, 2016, with a 5-year extension option at the discretion of the county.

To learn more about Alameda County's new EMS ambulance transport provider, visit

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