CPSM Senior Associate Matt Zavadsky has been working in emergency medical services for 41 years, but the nature of his work is thrusting him into the spotlight in a unique way this year as our nation confronts the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zavadsky is well-positioned to know what is happening in emergency medical response services on a day-to-day basis. His depth of experience, educational credentials, and access to real-time data enable him to be among the first to spot emerging trends and alert the public, media and policymakers.
As Chief Strategic Integration Officer of MedStar Mobile Healthcare and President of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Zavadsky is frequently quoted in the media. He was recently interviewed by Greta Van Susteren, U.S. News and World Report, and the Wall Street Journal and is a regular on Texas radio and television stations.
Recently Zavadsky has been warning that 911 calls for suspected heart attacks in the MedStar service area are down dramatically from last year. In March they were 21% lower; in April they were down 42%.
Such data could seem like a positive development, but Zavadsky and other healthcare experts are quite concerned. They are already aware of other data showing a 31% increase in cardiac arrests and a 54% increase in the victims unable to be resuscitated.
“Is coronavirus killing people afraid of catching the virus?” asks Zavadsky.
He suspects people who need treatment are not calling 911 because they do not want to go to the hospital. They are afraid of catching the virus or do not want to overburden the system.
Falling call volume also means less revenue for emergency responders at a time when they also face rising costs for personal protective equipment like N95 masks.
Local governments and EMS agencies are learning from the successes of Zavadsky and MedStar, which is one of the most recognized EMS agencies in America.
Given its flexible model, MedStar is able to adjust staffing to new realities. Many other EMS providers, however, like fire-based ambulance services, have a very difficult time adjusting staff.
Zavadsky explains that while there are far more 911 calls at 5 PM than 5 AM, many agencies staff the same number of ambulances for a 24-hour shift, resulting in low utilization rates.
CPSM clients benefit from expertise like Zavadsky’s when considering how to make their emergency response programs more efficient and cost-effective. CPSM experts analyze EMS call data to provide a comprehensive review of emergency medical services, including a detailed analysis of workloads and response times.
“Ability to analyze data and know what data to look at, that’s the kind of expertise that clients of CPSM are getting,” says Zavadsky. “We are able to explain what data is telling us.”
Zavadsky, along with CPSM’s Thomas Wieczorek, AIMHI President Chip Decker, and Medstar’s Dr. Veer Vithalani, recently participated in an ICMA webinar titled “The Role of EMS in Local COVID-19 Responses.”
They discussed how the pandemic is affecting EMS delivery and the challenges facing local agencies as they try to meet this crisis head-on. (A recording is available on ICMA’s Local Gov Life podcast.)
To read Zavadsky’s full bio, visit https://www.cpsm.us/about/team/matt-zavadsky/.
CPSM provides training and research for ICMA’s members and represents ICMA in its dealings with the federal government and other public safety professional associations, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Fire Chiefs Association, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Police Executive Research Forum, International Public Management Association for Human Resources, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), National Fire Protection Association, and others. CPSM also represents local governments at the federal level and has been involved in numerous projects with DOJ and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.