Improving Local Emergency Medical Services

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When I picked up Monday’s USA Today and saw the front-page series on the state of emergency medical services in the U.S. I already knew the bottom line.

Each second that passes from when you suffer medical trauma to when you begin receiving treatment makes a big difference in whether you live or die.


Far too many cities and counties rely on crude measurements of emergency response times, and there are huge variations in EMS response times in different communities around the country. I hope this USA Today series will prompt our communities to take a hard look at EMS system performance and make sure standards are appropriate and are being met.

I knew the bottom line of the USA Today story because Reason research found one way that cities improve response times and accountability of EMS is by privatizing.

In fact, today we released “Emergency Medical Services Privatization: Frequently Asked Questions” —

This report shows how competition for emergency medical services has been used to improve performance and save people’s lives, including case studies from a number of communities like Detroit, Tampa, and Richmond. The report addresses 11 frequently asked questions about EMS privatization:

*1. What is privatization?
*2. How common is EMS privatization?
*3. How is EMS funded and how are the poor served?
*4. Why do cities privatize EMS?
*5. How can we trust the private sector with matters of life and death?
*6. Aren’t public agencies more accountable than private providers?
*7. Won’t private providers cut corners to increase profits?
*8. How has private innovation improved EMS system design?
*9. What causes privatization to fail?
*10. Won’t privatization lead to public sector layoffs?
*11. How can I learn more about EMS privatization?

”’Dr. Adrian Moore, the Vice President for the Reason Foundation, can be reached via email at or by phone at (310) 292-2385. More information on the Reason Foundation is found at:”’

”’Originally published by Reason Foundation, which is a public policy think tank promoting choice, competition and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress. For more information, contact Geoffrey Segal, Director of Privatization and Government Reform Policy at:”’ ”’Visit the Reason Web site at:”’ ”’or go to the Reason Public Policy Institute’s Privatization Center at:”’ ”’for information on government reform, privatization, contracting out and public/private partnerships.”’