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Cherokee Nation Among Top 1 Percent for Emergency Medical Services

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Cherokee Nation Emergency Medical Services remains in the top 1 percent of ambulance services in the country meeting the highest standard of care.

This week the tribe’s EMS earned reaccreditation for another three years from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services.

In 2005, Cherokee Nation EMS became the first ambulance service in Oklahoma and the only tribe in the country to be accredited by the commission. Currently, only two agencies in Oklahoma have the distinction.

“The reaccreditation means that Cherokee Nation EMS meets the gold standard in the ambulance industry,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “We have elite personnel and equipment that operate efficiently and effectively to save lives. Our citizens deserve a health care system that is world-class, and the Cherokee Nation’s emergency medical team has proven to be just that.”

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The tribe’s EMS undergoes ongoing self-assessments to maintain accreditation. In January, CAAS officials performed an independent review of the program’s operations. Cherokee Nation EMS fully met all standards.

“The process of accreditation is very challenging, and Cherokee Nation EMS exemplifies the gold standards of pre-hospital care,” CAAS Executive Director Sarah L. McEntee said.

Accreditation is regarded as one of the key benchmarks for measuring the quality of an organization and provides opportunities to identify strengths and areas for improvement, Cherokee Nation EMS Director Jimmy Summerlin said.

“Establishing our program as an accredited agency illustrates our commitment to the quality of service we provide to our patients,” Summerlin said. “I commend all our staff for their hard work and dedication. It is their commitment that allows us to be successful.”

Cherokee Nation EMS consists of paramedic ambulance services, 911 communications staff and a certified training center. They currently employ 54 staff members and keep four ambulances active at all times. They have a coverage area of more than 1,000 square miles and responded to more than 4,500 emergency calls in 2013.