EMERGENCY RESPONSE SERVICES: Introduction 3

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Our analysis focuses on relatively simple, reduced-form procedures. We begin by exploring the sources of heterogeneity in the allocation of 911 services to different localities. We find that 911 is allocated not only according to factors which might increase their technical efficiency (such as the number of residents per county), but also according to a county’s political orientation. In particular, communities with more conservative voting patterns are less likely to adopt advanced 911 systems. Although we do not perform a formal cost-benefit analysis, these results suggest that public policies concerning 911 systems can potentially increase the efficiency of the diffusion process. For example, some of the barriers to adoption include the lack of incentives and information faced by county government officials, problems which could potentially be remedied at relatively low cost.

We then turn to analyze the productivity benefits from adopting Basic and Enhanced 911 systems, taking the patient as the unit of the analysis. We begin by studying the effects of the county-level 911 system on the time it takes to respond to cardiac emergencies and transport the patient to the hospital, factors which are an important component of the quality of emergency medical services. The detailed nature of the dataset allows us to control for a variety of patient characteristics, as well as features of the county such as the hospital infrastructure and demographic characteristics. finance

We show that an ambulance arrives at the scene of a cardiac emergency 5% faster in counties with Enhanced 911 as opposed to no 911 or Basic 911. Even larger gains are measured when we restrict our sample solely to those counties which change their level of 911 technology during our sample period. Moreover, patients are transported from the scene of an incident to the hospital approximately 10% faster in counties with Enhanced 911 as opposed to lower levels of 911.