Whidbey General Hospital

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an EMT and a paramedic?

Who cares for me when I’m in the ambulance?

If I choose another hospital, will the ambulance take me there?

If I’m having chest pain, do the paramedics know what to do?

What happens when I’m having a stroke?

If I am involved in an accident and someone else calls 911, and I am not transported will I be billed?

If I call 911 and an ambulance comes to my house, but does not transport, will I be billed?

When I call 911, why do so many fire department vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances show up?

What is an ABN form and why do I have to sign one?

What is this billing authorization / consent to treat form I am being asked to sign?

When I sign the computer tablet, CMS is listed in a drop-down menu that determines what I pay. Who is CMS?

 

 

 

What is the difference between an EMT and a paramedic?

An EMT has 180 hours of specialized training and provides basic life support care, such as:

    • Splinting
    • Wound care
    • Basic airway support
    • Use of two emergency medications
    • CPR and defibrillation

One year of professional EMT experience and specific college-level courses are generally required to gain acceptance into a paramedic program.

A paramedic has more than 1,000 hours of formal education and must complete a field externship program with an experienced paramedic called a Field Training Officer.

Paramedics provide advanced life support, which includes:

    • Administering intravenous fluids
    • Giving medication
    • Applying advanced airway skills
    • Using 12-lead EKG interpretations, which measure heartbeat regularity and rate

EMTs and paramedics are certified and registered by the state of Washington and operate under the license of Dr. Paul Zaveruha, EMS Medical Program Director.

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Who cares for me when I’m in the ambulance?

Every 911 call will bring a two-person crew, in addition to fire department personnel in the area. When you are transported to the hospital, either a paramedic or an EMT will be in the back with you, depending on the type of care you need.

Our highly-trained paramedics have an average of 15 years of experience. During your transport, paramedics have access to a Medical Program Director (MPD) and to the emergency department physician. Advice is asked for frequently, but even without phone-to-phone contact, EMS personnel can operate on standing orders, and can manage nearly every emergency based on their training, clearly defined expectations, and a strong relationship with the MPD.

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If I choose another hospital, will ambulance personnel take me?

We will make every attempt to take you there if your condition is stable and the staffing and availability of ambulances allow this transport. If you are getting specialized care at another facility, we will try to take you there to help provide consistent care to meet your medical needs.

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If I’m having chest pain, do the paramedics know what to do?

EMS personnel will quickly evaluate your condition and begin treatment. If you are having a heart attack, there will be indications in your EKG or your symptoms and you will receive the care you need. Time is everything when your heart muscle is suffering from a lack of oxygen or blood flow.

When someone presents a potential cardiac issue, a 12-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) gives more information about the patient’s heart health. A patient is transported to the nearest appropriate facility if having a heart attack or suffering heart damage. This may mean bypassing Whidbey General for a designated hospital that is involved in the state-wide STEMI program.

The letters in STEMI represent a two-point (S-T) segment of the EKG reading that is elevated when a patient is suffering heart damage: ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction. Specialized medications are given to minimize damage to the heart muscle. Whidbey General EMS was involved with this program two years before it was implemented across the state.

The most important thing is that the care is started even before you reach the emergency department.

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What happens when I’m having a stroke?

A stroke, or a Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA), is a life-threatening emergency. Stroke is the third largest cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. In the United States, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies every four minutes from the brain damage that occurs. There are two types of strokes, embolic or clot induced stroke, or a hemorrhagic stroke, which involves bleeding into the brain.

Whidbey General, in conjunction with Swedish Hospital in Seattle, has been part of the TeleStroke program since October 2011. Using a secure video conferencing network, neurological assessments can be performed at the bedside by the specialized stroke team at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle. Time is critical, because the symptoms must have occurred in a two- to four-hour window, so a decision about transport must be made quickly. Usually, strokes involve blood clots in the brain, and once that is confirmed with brain images, a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is given.

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If I am in an accident and someone else calls 911, but I am not transported, will I be billed for the call?

No

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If I call 911 and an ambulance comes to my house, but does not transport me, will I be billed for the call?

You could be billed for treatment, but not for transport. There are a number of federally-mandated factors considered when determining to charge or not for treatment, including length of time spent on scene, how many sets of vital signs were done or if other care or diagnostic tests were involved.

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When I call 911, why do so many fire department vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances show up?

When a 911 call is dispatched, the exact nature of the call is not yet known. Whidbey Island is fortunate to have dedicated volunteer firefighters who respond to medical emergencies and assist Whidbey General ambulance personnel.

Fire department volunteers are dispatched automatically and often arrive before ambulances to assist with vehicle extrication, traffic management, and scene safety, and to offer extra help with seriously ill patients.

First responders and EMTs bring first aid and fire apparatus to the scene, which allows them to provide basic care, deliver oxygen or begin CPR as other responders and paramedics arrive.

Sometimes fire personnel leave one scene to respond to another medical or fire call.

 

What is an Advanced Beneficiary Notice form and why do I have to sign one?

An Advanced Beneficiary Notice form is required when your insurance may not pay or will deny your ambulance transport claim. Your insurance company will review your claim; if they do not pay it, you will be responsible for the charges.

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What is the Billing Authorization or Consent-to-Treat form I am being asked to sign?

This form, required by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, authorizes us to release medical information necessary to process your insurance claim. It also gives us permission to gather information from the call to support your insurance claim, regardless of what carrier you have.

If you are unable to sign, an authorized representative will be asked to sign for you. This does not mean that they are accepting financial responsibility for you, only verifying that you received the emergency medical care described in the insurance claim.

 

When I sign the computer tablet, CMS is listed in a drop-down menu that determines what I pay. Who is CMS?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services is a government entity that makes laws for medical providers. These rules help prevent medical fraud.

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