Since its inception in 1986, REMSA (Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority) has dramatically improved the quality and responsiveness of emergency services in the Truckee Meadows and has put Reno on the map as the home of one of the nation’s highest-performing emergency medical services (EMS) systems.
REMSA has grown from an agency of 50 employees in 1986 to more than 225 in 2004. Even with the phenomenal growth in the Reno-Sparks area, REMSA continues to meet the challenge of providing advanced life support with mandated ambulance-response times and has adapted to changes in technology and the healthcare environment. REMSA receives no funding from taxes or private subsidies. Its rates are regulated by the Washoe District Board of Health.
Each REMSA paramedic ambulance unit is staffed with two REMSA employees trained as a Paramedic, EMS-RN (Emergency Medical Services Registered Nurse) or EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). Each unit is also equipped with state-of-the-art life-support equipment. Paramedic ambulances provide sound clinical patient care service under some of the strictest criteria in the world.
Care Flight’s helicopter service began in 1981 as a shared program of Washoe Medical Center, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Northern Nevada Medical Center, providing emergency air medical service and rescue to the remote and rugged areas of Northern Nevada and northeastern California. In 1986, Care Flight was placed under the authority of the REMSA to create a comprehensive ground and air EMS system.
Care Flight is always standing by with critical-care flight nurses, specially trained flight paramedics and skilled pilots ready to respond at a moment’s notice to requests from public safety agencies, hospitals, physicians or other health or public safety organizations. Care Flight provides service within a 150-mile radius of Reno, including many high-altitude sites and remote mountain rescue locations. Care Flight can provide critical care and rapid transport to seriously ill and injured patients at accident scenes and rural health care centers.
Individuals who call 911 for an ambulance or Care Flight unit are also automatically connected to REMSA’s certified emergency medical dispatchers, who give instructions to help the patient until REMSA arrives. The pre-arrival instructions REMSA dispatchers give callers include: performing CPR, delivering a baby or removing an object from the throat of a choking child, among many others. REMSA’s specially trained paramedics and emergency medical technicians taking the 911 calls simultaneously dispatch ground paramedic ambulances or Care Flight units while giving lifesaving instructions to the caller.
With state-of-the-art radio systems and a computerized system-status management program , the 911 emergency medical dispatchers coordinate all emergency medical responses to meet the needs of patients in a cost-effective manner. Medical dispatchers also provide critical pre-arrival medical communication between the hospitals, Care Flight and ground ambulance units throughout northern Nevada and California.
REMSA also offers a critical care transport vehicle. The ambulance provides advanced life support to patients and is virtually an intensive care unit on wheels. This unit can stabilize and transport critically ill patients from one medical facility to another, whether for local or long-distance transports. Each unit is staffed with a critical-care nurse and a critical-care paramedic.
Special events services provide medical and emergency coverage to meet the needs of many different types of events. Special Weapons and Tactics teams (SWAT), a trained and highly experienced group of paramedics, work with local law enforcement to provide advanced emergency medical care during police activities to injured officers, hostages, suspects and the general public. REMSA’s other community services include Med-Express, a non-emergency wheelchair transport service, as well as extensive community health and safety education and service work.