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A Publication of WTVP

The team at Advanced Medical Transport surpasses expectations in compassionate care and cutting-edge technologies to bring hope and healing… one life at a time.

In the mid-20th century, in the absence of advanced medical transportation and trained emergency dispatchers, roughly 30 percent of patients requiring emergency medical care were transported to hospitals by way of basic life support ambulances. These vehicles were not much more sophisticated than basic transportation, with trucks, vans and suburbans moving patients from one location to the next.

“Operators in 911 call centers would use their best judgement whether to send the ‘really good’ truck to the really sick patient, or the ‘not-so-good’ truck to the not-so-sick patient,” explains Andrew Rand, CEO of Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois.

But times have changed. As technology marched forward, two significant decisions made in the 1970s would forever impact the emergency medical services (EMS) provided to the City of Peoria and its surrounding communities. In 1975, Methodist Medical Center, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Proctor Hospital decided to merge the city’s two hospital-owned ambulance companies, Ace Ambulance and Green Cross, into a single entity, which became known as Mobile Medic in 1978. About the same time, the Peoria City Council passed an ordinance requiring ambulance companies in the city to provide paramedic service. These moves helped pave the way for the development of one of the nation’s finest emergency medical service organizations: Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois (AMT).

A private, not-for-profit organization governed by a board of directors comprised of local community leaders, AMT does more than provide care for hospital patients and 911 callers. Its legacy of leadership and community service has raised the bar for healthcare services—and results—in central Illinois. AMT’s comprehensive team of trained nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and dispatchers, combined with topline medical transportation, pre-hospital healthcare services and state-of-the-art communication technologies, are all geared to one bottom line: saving lives.

Taking the Reins
Not long before Andrew Rand began as CEO of Mobile Medic—soon to become AMT—in January 1991, the organization faced a financial quandary. As its funding wavered, the hospitals feared the quality of patient care could be jeopardized, and in 1988, a task force of hospital representatives, city government, police and fire officials, was created to review Peoria’s emergency medical services and determine how it could be improved.

Mobile Medic partnered with Fitch and Associates, a nationally-known EMS consulting firm, and a new plan was put into place. “We proposed a business plan and a capital plan underneath it to completely remake Peoria hospitals’ Mobile Medic services,” Rand explains. “By September 1991, we had successfully restructured the EMS system and created Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois.”

The cooperative effort among Peoria’s hospital leadership has been a key factor in AMT’s track record of success, just as AMT has been fundamental to the hospitals. “We are an integral part of their healthcare delivery systems,” says Rand. “[They] rely on AMT for the majority of their medical transportation needs, and they demand the highest level of medical care possible. Through their support, we have become recognized as one of the leading EMS systems in the country.”

Originally a biology major, Rand became an EMT in 1978 while a freshman at Clemson University in South Carolina, where he volunteered for the university’s ambulance service. He later went to work for a public provider in Greenville County, South Carolina, where he received his paramedic training in 1983. After graduating from Clemson in 1986, Rand managed a for-profit ambulance provider in South Carolina for five years before coming to Peoria.

That experience keeps Rand grounded in his current role. “I know what both sides of the windshield look like,” he explains. “It makes my presentation to the staff and clinical teams relevant that I have that background.”

And today, Rand could not be more proud of his team. “I have never seen a group of more dedicated, clinically superior people in the EMS field,” he says. “Their commitment to excellent patient care is the foundation of AMT’s mission statement.”

Provider of Choice
With its mission to “consistently deliver outstanding healthcare transportation service and value,” the people, services and technology of AMT are grounded in exceptionalism. More than 850,000 residents benefit from scheduled and emergency medical services from its 300 employees—and the largest ambulance fleet in central Illinois, with 42 Advanced Life Support ambulances.

“We manage nearly 70,000 calls and transactions annually,” adds Rand. Through it all, the organization’s values of being prepared, clinically effective, community-centered, compassionate, honest and customer-focused has ensured it accomplishes its vision: “becoming a nationally acclaimed regional healthcare provider of choice.”

AMT’s dedication to service has not gone unrecognized. The organization is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services, an independent commission that emphasizes the highest quality of patient care in the nation’s medical transportation system. In 2011, Advanced Medical Transport received its fourth consecutive three-year accreditation, deemed the “gold standard” in the ambulance industry.

Rand received the coveted Pinnacle EMS Leadership Award of Excellence in 2013; he was given this honor by Fitch & Associates, the industry’s pre-eminent consulting firm. The same year, AMT was recognized by Catalyst Insurance Ltd. with the Gold Medal Safety Achievement Award for its standard of excellence in on-the-job safety and preparedness.

Evolution & Expansion
Such recognitions arrived on the coattails of years of hard work and continuous improvement, which, in turn, have led to consistent growth and expansion. In 2004, AMT established a management contract with Area Ambulance Service (AAS) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, offering its expertise and consulting services and serving as the impetus for the redevelopment of Iowa’s paramedic service provider. Thanks to this collaboration, AAS was able to design and build Iowa’s most modern EMS system to date.

In 2008, a new parent organization, AMT Incorporated, was created to oversee the organization’s expanding needs. In turn, AMT Incorporated formed a small corporation, MEMSI, to manage the service agreements with AAS, as well as open the door to other opportunities. Three years later, Advanced Medical Transport of Iowa was established to bring new EMS services to Iowa City and southeastern Iowa. In January 2013, AMT and Trinity Ambulance Service agreed to form AMT-Quad Cities, now managing 9,000 calls each year.

Closer to home, AMT encompasses 22 communities in Peoria and Tazewell counties and four fire protection districts in Mercer County, Streator and Livingston, as well as the cities of Rock Island, Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf. It is the foremost provider of emergency and scheduled ambulance services in central and western Illinois, and a model for not-for-profit emergency medical services nationwide.

Cutting-Edge Facilities & Technology
In 1995, to accommodate its early growth, AMT moved from its former location on North University in Peoria to a much larger facility. The new headquarters at 1718 North Sterling began at an impressive 30,000 square feet, designed with the input of every employee on staff. “When we built this building,” recalls Rand, “it was a major event.”

But as this growth continued, so did the organization’s brick-and-mortar needs, and in 2011, the building underwent multi-million-dollar renovations, nearly doubling in size to encompass a new, state-of-the-art call center. In service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, AMT’s sophisticated Communications Call Center is truly a masterpiece of technological resources. Featuring emergency power generators and a self-contained HVAC system, the center synchronizes transportation across AMT’s service area, utilizing advanced vehicle location and routing technologies to process more than 54,000 ambulance calls a year.

These technologies ensure that AMT always knows the exact location of its ambulances, which are strategically located throughout the city in high-volume call areas. “We took our ambulance crews out of buildings,” says Rand. “No more of our paramedics based at emergency departments. Our teams are now dynamically deployed… They are literally idling at street corners throughout the community… ready to respond.”

Their placement is determined by an analysis of previous emergency response data, which indicates the areas and times of high demand. This data is entered into AMT’s Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, which determines when and where ambulances should be located. “When a 911 request comes in, the CAD automatically locates the closest ambulance to respond,” notes Rand. “This ensures the highest level of service and the fastest emergency response times around the clock.”

The call center is highly secure, built to withstand the effects of an “EF5” twister, the highest level of tornado intensity. “We made sure our call center could not be interrupted, so it can sustain severe weather and our business can keep operating,” says Rand. “You’re seeing this latest expansion cover our philosophy that nothing can disrupt our services.”

Training & Other Services
In addition to emergency services, AMT also provides scheduled ambulance services for those who are bedridden, require life-sustaining oxygen, or cannot be moved safely without assistance. It also offers critical care and Illinois Patient Transport services.

AMT’s Critical Care Paramedic Transport Program was designed to meet the needs of residents in smaller communities, allowing for the transportation of intensive care patients across the region. “AMT developed Illinois’ first certified critical care ground transportation program,” Rand notes. “This unique program requires specially-trained paramedics and utilizes a one-of-a-kind vehicle, which is really an intensive care unit on wheels. We took the regular paramedics and ‘uptrained’ them to handle certain equipment, like ventilators. Today, we are using specially trained critical care nurses to complement our early initiatives in regional transportation.”

When emergency or scheduled ambulance service is not required, Illinois Patient Transport (IPT), a division of AMT, provides statewide 24/7 service and specialty vehicles, offering care and supervision of behavioral health clients that require transportation from one healthcare facility to another. IPT transports 3,000 clients each year and uses AMT’s Call Center to coordinate care across the state.

AMT also places significant value on education and training—its 6,000-square-foot education center is the largest non-collegiate resource for emergency services education in downstate Illinois. In response to growing demand, paramedics can become certified on-site through AMT’s Training and Research Institute. Beginning at the first-responder level, students are taught everything they need to know, ensuring they leave the program with the skillset required to deliver exceptional patient care.

It wasn’t long before Rand realized the facility could also be utilized as a community resource. Hospitals, for example, often require classrooms for continuing education and staff training. With more than 3,600 square feet of meeting space, built-in A/V equipment, smaller conference space seating 16 to 32 people, and a lecture hall with theatre-style seating for 70, AMT had the perfect space within its own walls. Other local organizations utilize the space as well, among the ways AMT reaches beyond its own boundaries to the community at large.

A Community Asset
In partnership with the Heart of Illinois United Way, AMT provides access to the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 information line, connecting residents of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Putnam and Stark counties to an abundance of valuable information: physical and mental health services, crisis intervention services, information on local food pantries and homeless shelters, counseling for drug and alcohol addiction, financial assistance, unemployment benefits, job training, transportation, childcare services, tutoring services and more.

The information line is connected to AMT’s call center, which employs 2-1-1 specialists as well as traditional 9-1-1 call center staff. “9-1-1 has become much more than it was intended to,” Rand explains. The relatively new 2-1-1 program provides a centralized help and information center, focusing the community’s non-emergency needs towards a dedicated system of resources and referral.

Also significant to the community is AMT’s CardioReviver program, started in 2002, which offers hands-on programs to train area citizens how to save lives using a defibrillator. AMT has donated about 550 automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which are spread across the community, and AMT has trained more than 20,000 people in their use. The organization includes defibrillator training in its four-hour CPR classes, which end with certification through the American Heart Association. According to the AHA, the use of AEDs saves tens of thousands of lives each year—and AMT covers all costs of the program.

In addition to providing millions of dollars in charitable care each year, AMT also operates Rivermedic 1, a paramedic-staffed watercraft that provides assistance for emergencies on the Illinois River. AMT medics ride bikes at a variety of community events, and its staff educates youth on the dangers of drunk driving and the necessity of wearing bike helmets and life jackets. The organization also provides child safety seat inspections by appointment.

Disaster Close to Home
When it comes to perilous circumstances, the personnel of AMT are always prepared for the unexpected. When two “EF4” twisters with winds upward of 170 to 190 miles per hour roared through Washington, Pekin and East Peoria on November 17, 2013, cars were toppled, houses destroyed and hopes darkened. But just minutes after the storm, AMT supervisors were already en route to assist those hardest hit. “We received a call from Tazewell County 911 soon after the storms went through, and they said, ‘Send everything you can!’” Rand explains.

Within the first 60 minutes, AMT had dispatched six paramedic ambulances to the Devonshire area in Washington, where the heaviest damage had occurred. Over the next hour, it dispatched nine additional ambulances to the Washington Fire Department Command Center, four of which came from Iowa, and sent five transit vans to the medical triage facility at the Command Center. “We had three operations supervisors on the ground in Washington. We had 51 employees respond to call-ins. We transported 11 patients and cared for several dozens more.”

An AMT disaster trailer also supplied victims with food and water. “We had 21 vehicles and 51 staff total. Our major efforts lasted until 8:00 Sunday night, and we provided additional paramedic crews for the next two days supporting the Washington Fire Department. To hear about all the people who received assistance and how our team efforts made a difference… It’s a good feeling, amidst our great sadness for the terrible losses wrought by the storm.”

While new technology and facilities have kept AMT on the cutting edge, the genuine compassion of its staff keeps the heart of the organization beating. “Patient care has always been the main goal here,” affirms Rand. “Quality, compassionate, timely, cost-appropriate patient care.

“We’ve stood the test of time and only gotten better. In the business we’re in… to have maintained expectations, which [have been] ever-increasing on our organization for 23 years, is probably our greatest accomplishment,” he adds.

“It’s a privilege to be here.” iBi

For more information, visit advancedmedicaltransport.org or call 800-457-1143.

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