Taxpayers like to know that they’re getting their money’s worth from the public agencies that spend it. So check out the bargain that Medic One delivers.
King County calls its Medic One and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system “world class.” The hype isn’t necessary, especially for the 170,000-plus people who last year had medics attending their medical emergencies in an average of less than five minutes.
That’s the kind of bang for your buck that made last November’s countywide levy for Medic One a slam dunk for voters. Eighty-three percent of them approved the six-year tax measure by saying yes to a property assessment of 30 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.
The approval rate seems like it should have been higher, given the importance of Medic One to the lives of so many people over the years and in years to come. You never know when you or a loved one might need a medic – now, if not sooner. If the 17 percent of voters who said no to Medic One were voting their pocketbooks, that’s their prerogative. But they might be glad some day that they were in the minority on election day.
Victims of heart attacks are especially big fans of Medic One. Thanks to medics’ response times that have been steady despite population growth, the survival rate from witnessed cardiac arrest in King County has been above 40 percent the past three years. In other major population areas in the U.S., survival rates were in the single digits in 2007, according to King County officials.
“Patient survival from cardiac arrest is a critical measure for success of any EMS system, and our survival rate continues to be unmatched anywhere in the world,” said Dr. David Fleming, taking some justifiable pride in the system as director of the Seattle -King County Public Health Department, which helps oversee it.
The system involves five emergency dispatch centers, seven paramedic providers and 30 fire departments. In addition to hustling out on calls, the system has trained 9-1-1 dispatchers in how to give CPR instructions over the phone to save a life or keep one going until the cavalry arrives. It’s all part of a good return on tax money.