Emergency Medical Services System

Frequently Asked Questions

Emergency Medical Services, more commonly known as EMS, is a system that provides emergency medical care. EMS is an intricate system, and each component of this system has an essential role to perform as part of a coordinated and seamless system of emergency medical care. The Sioux Falls EMS system is composed of:

Metro Communications (911)
Paramedics Plus Ambulance Service
Sioux Falls Police Department
Local Hospitals/Emergency Departments
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue
Sioux Falls Health Department

Paramedics Plus operates within the EMS system through an exclusive franchise agreement with the City of Sioux Falls. This agreement allows for the provision of ambulance services without a city subsidy.

COSF EMS Response

The priority status of a call is determined using a standard triage protocol known as Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD). Dispatchers at Metro Communications, a nationally accredited agency, triage all calls that are placed to the 9-1-1 center.

The priority call types are:
Priority 1 – life threatening emergency call
Priority 2 – non-life threatening emergency call
Priority 3 – non-emergency call

The priority assigned to each call helps determine which resources should respond and how quickly.

In an effort to make a good system even better, the Sioux Falls EMS system recently conducted a two-month pilot project with a goal of optimizing the use of EMS resources in the community.

The pilot enhanced the use of technology. By sending more specific information via pagers to ambulance crews, the system increased provider awareness of the status of the EMS system.

In addition, the system tested and increased its focus on call and scene reprioritizations as appropriate. The decision to request assistance by implementing mutual aid was moved to Metro Communications because Metro Communications has a global view of all the assets in the community as well as what additional resources are available to the community. Changes to dispatch of priority 3 calls were made to keep Fire Rescue assets, such as life-saving AEDs, immediately available.

The pilot project ended December 1, 2016.

The Sioux Falls EMS system has a history of using pilot projects as a way to test change. Pilot projects are small-scale preliminary studies that are conducted to evaluate feasibility, time, cost and effects of change. This type of performance improvement allows leadership to identify any potential difficulties in a live but controlled environment prior to implementation of change.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue used a similar performance improvement pilot project prior to implementation of the Public Access Defibrillator program. Paramedics Plus uses this process to determine ambulance posting locations and adjustments to staffing.

Leaders from all agencies involved in the pre-hospital EMS response directed the pilot project. This includes leadership from Metro Communications, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Paramedics Plus, the Sioux Falls Health Department and the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA). Leadership is committed to the continued use of performance improvement processes to ensure that the best service is being provided to customers of the EMS system.

By optimizing the use of EMS resources, this pilot project will:

  1. Use mutual aid resources only when necessary in an effort to keep those limited resources available to meet their own community’s needs.
  2. To the greatest extent possible, keep fire department resources available to respond to emergency calls in their own response areas.
This pilot project was an operational adjustment to how services are delivered. There has been NO change to the EMS contract or quality assurance measures required in the contract. A multi-disciplinary team conducts daily quality assurance reviews to ensure timely responses as directed in the ambulance service provider contract. Paramedics Plus continues to meet and exceed response time requirements.

Resources