Rescue Lines – Fall 2015 – EMS Stats Reveal Need for Scheduling Changes

Since Public Safety Analyst Robert Davis joined EMS in late 2013, the department has begun to dig deeper into 9-1-1 call statistics, and the information is now shedding light on the need for staffing adjustments.

With a background in analytics, Robert has been working with more than 20 years of dispatch call data, first looking for trends and patterns on a year-by-year basis. From there, he analyzed calls from a monthly and seasonal standpoint, then on a daily basis and finally by time of day.

Considering the tourist season, it was no surprise to learn that calls increase each year from April through August and September. He also discovered variations during different days of the week; Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays showed a slightly higher demand for EMS services. Looking at times of day, he observed a consistent 24-hour pattern, with calls increasing around 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. (considered a peak demand time) and then slightly decreasing in the evening, with the lowest number of calls coming in between 2 and 4 a.m.

“No matter what time of year or day of the week, with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays, which tend to be busier in the evenings, we saw a very similar bell curve pattern,” explains Robert.

As a result, VB EMS determined that Virginia Beach doesn’t necessarily need 12 ambulances staffed 24 hours a day. Instead, they are looking into how scheduling can be adjusted based on demand. For career staff, this means a tiered or stacked approach, rather than traditional 12-hour (6 a.m. – 6 p.m. or vice versa) shifts. For example, at peak times, as many as eight Paramedics may be on duty, rather than five, which was typical under the old staffing model. The department is also beginning to analyze calls by location within the city.

“Robert’s analysis moved us to look at new options for scheduling and deployment. The first step has been to try a new shift rotation for the career medics, optimizing our ability to provide advanced life support (ALS) coverage and augment ambulance staffing where required,” says Division Chief Ed Brazle. “Leaders are now looking for approaches to more effectively schedule volunteer rescue squad members to not only better cover calls, but also to help with member retention. This will be a long term process, but we are excited about the possibilities for the future.”