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The Medical 9-1-1 Call is Starting to Change – and It’s a Good Thing!

In 2019, REMSA, along with just 205 other emergency medical service agencies, was chosen by the federal government to participate in a special program called ET3 (Emergency Triage Treat and Transport). It is focused on reducing the unnecessary use of emergency healthcare services, both for ambulance transports and emergency room visits.

You may be surprised to know that about 30% of the calls REMSA responds to are for first-aid level complaints – things like sprained ankles, sore throats and toothaches. Sending an ambulance to a call for a sprained ankle and transporting that patient to the emergency room means that ambulances are not available to respond to critical emergencies like strokes, heart attacks and severe allergic reactions.

Through this new program, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services now offers certain Medicare beneficiaries alternate care options when an ambulance responds to a 911 call. You can still request to be transported to an emergency room. However, the paramedics and EMTs may suggest that you are eligible to receive care at home through a telehealth virtual visit with a provider or you may be able to be transported to an urgent care facility for treatment, instead of the emergency room. This program is a safe and convenient way to be evaluated and treated – either entirely at home or in an urgent care location.

It’s important to understand how this program works so that you aren’t surprised if a REMSA paramedic or EMT offers you these alternate care options.

You should know a couple of important things:

  • This program is very safe. It is overseen by REMSA’s medical directors.
  • To be eligible for these different care options, patients must meet a strict set of clinical criteria for things like blood pressure, heart rate and pulse. Depending on the nature of your illness or injury, your symptoms and certain health risk factors, you may not be eligible for the virtual visit or transport to an alternate care location.
  • To ensure safety and clinical excellence, REMSA’s Quality and Clinical Services department reviews 100 percent of the calls that receive treatment at home or are transported to an alternate location.
  • Virtual visits or transport to an alternate destination is based on availability and hours of operation. Sometimes the only option is a transport to the emergency room.
  • The REMSA paramedics and EMTs will ask you for your insurance information. This is something new and the only reason they will ask is to determine what evaluation and care options are available to you.
  • This program does NOT have any additional REMSA fees for you, the Medicare beneficiary. In fact, Alternate Care Sites and Treatment in Place Telehealth options, assist in avoiding costly emergency department treatment.
  • Your telehealth virtual visit will be conducted by Ready Responders – a partner to REMSA . The Ready Responder will bring all necessary equipment to connect you to a provider who can treat your condition, including ordering prescriptions for your condition.
  • If you are eligible for treatment in place or transport to an alternate destination, you will be asked to sign a consent form

REMSA is excited to provide this important program throughout Washoe County. Offering additional out-of-hospital evaluation, care and treatment options ensures your safety and assures the highest level of emergency medical services remain available for the most critical emergencies. You are encouraged to take advantage of these safe and convenient programs if the REMSA medical provider advises that you are eligible.


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