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Rural vs. urban: Understanding the obstacles of providing emergency care in Oklahoma

Regardless of where emergency care is being delivered, it must be well managed and organized to ensure the best results, said Dr. Eric Beck, associate chief medical officer at American Medical Response and Evolution Health.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: April 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: April 16, 2014
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Across Oklahoma, the obstacles that emergency responders face vary widely, from serving dense urban populations to reaching rural residents in the furthest corners of the state.

Regardless of where emergency care is being delivered, it must be well managed and organized to ensure the best results, said Dr. Eric Beck, associate chief medical officer at American Medical Response and Evolution Health.

Beck was recently in Oklahoma City at an Emergency Medical Services Authority workshop and answered a few questions about care in rural and urban areas.

Q: What challenges do rural emergency responders face?

The fundamental building blocks of an emergency medical system are similar, regardless of location, Beck said.

However, rural emergency responders do face unique challenges.

“In rural areas in particular, oftentimes there are challenges with resource availability, access to care, transportation, specifically transport time and intervals, which are very real challenges in rural environments,” Beck said.

Q: What are the obstacles to delivering care in an urban setting?

In an urban setting, resources are usually available, but the population is dense, Beck said. Emergency responders must find effective ways to navigate patients to the right resources in the right amount of time, he said.

“When you talk about an urban setting, typically, the population is high, the density is great, oftentimes there are vertical elements to their location that don’t exist typically in rural settings, so they may be on the 30th floor of a building, for example,” Beck said. “Because the population is larger and denser, there’s a higher volume of calls, which means there may be competing priorities in a system at any given time.”

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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