• 52°

Patriot EMS ready to do its civic duty for quality health care

After 15 years in the EMS industry, David Rotter wanted to do some things differently with his business. As Chief Operations Officer of newly opened Patriot Emergency Medical Services, he wanted to provide a higher standard of care, he wanted to be in charge of his own fleet, but the clincher? Rotter wanted to provide a better blanket.

"People wander out of nursing homes with patients, and they'll have a blanket on them and you'll see skin between the blanket and the stretcher, because the blanket's too small," Rotter said, "and they freeze, these poor little patients. We don't do that here. It's seems like a little thing, but- the level of care is low (among other providers), and we do that much better because we cover our patients up."

The blankets, of course, are not what Rotter feels sets Patriot apart. He's proud of the fact that he has new ambulances, that his crew checks patients' blood pressure twice per trip, no matter what the length. The blankets are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, a symbol of the care that he attempts to provide.

They've been doling out that care since Nov. 17, 2004. Their original business plan was to run 10 calls the first month, and adding 10 calls to that figure each following month. If the number of those dialing 532-2222 was any indication, demand was higher than expected.

"We ran 27 calls in our first three days," Rotter said with a tired grin, "It's been kind of non-stop after that, we loaded almost 200 calls last week, this week will be about the same."

Perhaps one of the reasons that Patriot underestimated their business prospects was the populace's familiarity with public ambulance services. Though Rotter admitted that some private services have less certification than the public ambulances, he said that the opposite is true for Patriot, and he's looking to get that message to the public.

"I don't want to say that we're better than them, because they do the same job we do, but there are a lot of misconceptions that public services are better, stronger, faster, but they're not," Rotter said. "As a matter of fact, they're the same, the only thing that's different is the color of the paint."

In order for Patriot to have crews of that quality, it was key for Rotter to attract the right people. As an EMT himself, it was important to him that his employees be just as well cared for as his patients. Notably, he provides "well days" to his employees, when they're just "too well" to go to work.

According to Patriot Executive Vice President Rob Blankenship, these and other employee considerations equal a better quality of care.

"We've got happy employees that come to work everyday and smile," Blankenship said, "and do the little things that we ask of them and do them gladly."

There's another reason for Blankenship and Rotter to keep their employees happy, as Patriot is largely a family affair. Blankeship's wife drives an ambulance, and Rotter's wife serves as a dispatcher. Of the six principle owners of the company, five are related to Rotter and Blankenship, who are themselves brothers-in-law.

"Half the trucks are covered by family members. To me, that's very important," Rotter said. "What's neat about it is that different members of the family were EMS people already, for different squads. So they all came together and that's a cool thing to do. It's very much a family business."

Though its main mission is currently to serve the Lawrence County area to the best of its ability, Patriot is eyeing expanding further into the Tri-State.

However, Rotter said that he'll never expand to a point where he cannot provide the best care possible, or grow so busy that he doesn't have time to make sure his patients have a large, comfy blanket.