Operating an Ambulance Service
All ambulance services operating in the District of Columbia must go through a Certificate of Need (CON) approval process prior to starting service. The CON process is performed by the District of Columbia State Health Planning and Development Agency.
The ambulance service as well as the ambulances themselves must conform to current District regulations as outlined in the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), Title 29, Chapter 5.
All ambulance services are required to submit a Quality Assurance and Improvement (QA-QI) Plan to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division once they receive their CON. The purpose of the QA-QI Plan is to help improve EMS services across the District. It requires, among other things, that Ambulance Services analyze trends in the care being delivered by their providers, investigate and report untoward incidents, and submit an annual report to the Department of Health.
All ambulances in the District are currently required to meet the GSA standard Federal Specification for the Star-of-Life Ambulance KKK-A-1822F or NFPA 1917 “Standard for Automotive Ambulances”, whichever is in effect at the time the ambulance is manufactured. Additionally we also utilize other standards for District ambulances, including the Ambulance Manufacturers Division (AMD) of the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Ambulance Equipment Standard and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
The EMS Division inspects and certifies all ambulances operating in the District to ensure they meet the specifications that have been adopted by the Department of Health. We also conduct unannounced inspections to help maintain the quality of the ambulances that are being used in the District of Columbia.
The EMS Medical Director
All EMS Organizations are required to have a DC licensed physician to fill the role of Medical Director. The Medical Director is responsible for the EMS providers in the organization and the care they provide to their patients. The Medical Director sets the direction for the agency, and the skills and procedures the providers can perform. He or she is responsible for the oversight of these providers, to make sure they are performing according to their protocols. The role of the Medical Director in EMS is one of high responsibility. They are leaders, educators, mentors and more.
Resources for Medical Directors
The role of EMS Medical Director can appear overwhelming. The National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) has made materials available to help any Medical Director in their EMS role.