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Beginning this morning, (Wednesday January 14, 2015)  the Omaha Fire Department will transport critical trauma patients only to Nebraska Medicine for emergency care.  Following a decision by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Medicine is now the only Level One Trauma Center in the state of Nebraska. The Omaha Fire Department joins dozens of other agencies in this decision.

The State notified CHI Health this week that Creighton University Medical Center did not meet several required standards to be designated as a Level One Trauma Center. In a letter to CHI Creighton, Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Acierno wrote, “Based on your failure to meet these standards, your application is denied.”

“Our decision is based solely on the state’s actions and will have no effect on public safety,” said Fire Chief Bernie Kanger.  “We are providing the best level of outcome for our patients.”

The Level One designation is the highest a hospital can receive.  Omaha’s Children’s Hospital is a Level Two Trauma Center. Omaha Fire EMS Chief Lloyd Rupp said, “The trauma designation assures us as providers that certain standards are met and maintained.  Without the designation, we have no idea of the services a hospital is able to provide to patients.”

Kanger says the decision by the Midwest Protocol Committee, which includes Omaha Fire, suburban fire departments and private ambulance services in Douglas, Sarpy, Washington and Pottawattamie Counties, applies only to critical trauma cases.  Medical patients and less severe trauma candidates will still be able to choose a hospital, including CHI/Creighton for their care.

Chief Kanger says the Omaha Fire Department responds to an average of 120 trauma calls each month, providing critical pre-hospital care in the field and transporting patients to the hospital. 

“If CHI Creighton’s status changes, we will re-evaluate,” said Chief Kanger.  “Patient care must be our priority.”