Austin-Travis County EMS Glossary
These are definitions for expressions used on our dashboard that may not be clear when you first encounter them, either because they are not commonly used in everyday speech, or because sometimes a word can have multiple meanings in an EMS context.
Units of Measure
These terms describe the primary units of measure we use throughout our programs.
Call: A request for assistance received through the ATCEMS Communications Center, via 911 or other means.
Incident: A single unscheduled event for which ATCEMS assistance is requested.
Patient: A person whose situation or medical complaint suggests potential for illness or injury.
Patient Contact: A single interaction between ATCEMS and a patient in the course of an incident. A single patient contact is counted for an incident, even if multiple units interact with the patient (e.g. one unit triages a patient and a second unit transports her/him).
Patient Transport: Transfer by ATCEMS of a patient from the scene of an incident to an appropriate facility. Generally, such facilities include, but are not limited to, acute care hospital emergency departments. This measure counts patients transported by ATCEMS units.
Response: The dispatch of a single ATCEMS vehicle to an incident in order to provide assessment, treatment, and/or transport. A response is counted even if the unit does not arrive on scene due to cancellation or other causes. Response has two sub-classifications:
- System Response: A subset of all responses that excludes responses with a disposition or cancel reason of “Reconfigured Response,” which indicates that a unit’s response was cancelled in favor of another unit that is closer to the incident. System responses are a measure of the system’s resource demand.
- Unit Response: Synonymous with the general term response, this measure includes responses with a disposition or cancel reason of “Reconfigured Response.” Unit responses is a measure of unit workload; the term is used to differentiate it from system response.
Unit: Any ATCEMS resource available for dispatch and/or response to an incident in the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system (e.g. ambulances, command units, or specialty response vehicles).
Geography is an important factor in how we measure and report on our performance. These are terms we commonly use when discussing locations.
Emergency Services District (ESD): An independent political subdivision that provides emergency response services (i.e. fire suppression and medical first response). There are 12 ESDs within Travis County.
City: Refers to the City of Austin. It includes the full purpose jurisdiction of the City of Austin; limited purpose and other jurisdictions are excluded. Full purpose jurisdictions of the City that fall within Williamson and Hays counties are included in this area.
City Council District: Subdivisions of the City of Austin that serve as the basis for representation on the Austin City Council. Council districts include full purpose and limited purpose jurisdictions of the City.
County: Refers to Travis County. It includes all areas of Travis County outside the full purpose jurisdiction of the City of Austin. Limited purpose and other City of Austin jurisdictions are included in the Travis County service area.
Other: Areas that fall outside the City of Austin and Travis County. These are generally other counties into which ATCEMS will respond on a mutual aid basis.
An interval is the period between one time stamp and another, as recorded in the CAD system, or other system where appropriate. These are common terms we use when measuring time periods. We report these values in minutes and seconds, unless otherwise noted.
Scene Interval: The period of time between arrival of a unit at the scene of an incident, and the departure of that unit from the scene, whether or not a patient is transported.
Call Processing Interval: The period between the time of phone pickup in Communications and initial dispatch of responding units.
Call-to-Door Interval: The period between time of phone pickup in Communications and arrival of the patient at the appropriate receiving facility.
Response Interval: The period between the time of phone pickup in Communications reporting an incident and arrival of the first unit at the scene of the incident.
Billing Interval: The number of days between ATCEMS contact with a patient and the date that the first invoice is issued.
These terms are used in discussing the medical care we provide.
ACS: Acute Coronary Syndrome. This term describes a set of symptoms experienced by patients who have a sudden decrease in blood flow to their heart due to a blocked vessel or other causes. These symptoms might include some combination of chest pain, discomfort, or pressure; difficulty breathing; left arm pain or discomfort; back pain or discomfort; or other problems. This condition can lead to heart damage or death if not treated quickly.
BGL: Blood Glucose Level. The amount of a simple form of sugar present in someone’s blood. EMS personnel check this with an electronic meter that uses a small amount of blood drawn from a finger stick. A normal level can range from 70 to 140 milligrams/deciliter, depending on when the patient has last eaten.
Care Bundle: A set of assessments and/or interventions that should be performed for a patient every time. A bundle is successfully completed when a patient receives all of the assessments and/or interventions included in the bundle, or a specific and valid reason for not performing a procedure, such as allergy to an indicated medication, is documented.
ROSC: Return of Spontaneous Circulation. The restoration of a heart beat with a palpable pulse after a patient experiences a cardiac arrest.
STEMI: S-T Elevated Myocardial Infarction. A common type of heart attack that can be diagnosed by prehospital personnel.
Operations and Communications Terms
This section lists terms that may be found on-line that relate to field operations and the Communications Center.
Grade of Service: The percentage of 911 calls answered within 10 seconds in the Communications Center.
Priority: The relative urgency for dispatch of an incident, based on information gathered during call-taking. Priorities are measured on a scale of 1-5, with Priority 1 incidents having the highest level of precedence for dispatch.
Problem: The nature of the incident to which a unit is dispatched, based on information gathered during the call-taking process.
Reconfigured Response: A response that is cancelled due to the dispatch of another unit that is closer to the incident in question.
Regularly Scheduled: Refers to units. These are units that the department will pay overtime to deploy.