LIMIT COSTS AND REDUCE WASTE
We all know that every certified ambulance running in the State of New York has a specified list of required equipment (known as Section 800.24). Regular crew checks (usually at the beginning of each shift) and restocking after calls should make that easy to comply with. The tricky part is pulling the equipment from hopefully well-stocked cabinets, and this is where good planning and records can make a world of difference.
Your Supply Officer, or whatever title your agency has assigned, is responsible for making sure that the necessary equipment is on hand at all times, and with careful planning and good data records this equipment can be available in the most cost-efficient way. Ordering piece meal only when the equipment is depleted is both risky and costly — the agency runs the risk of not being able to receive it in time to comply with Part 800, and it may be a higher cost than necessary because there is no time to go scouting for best prices. Unless your supplier is giving you an adequate discounts for customer loyalty, then it is the Supply Officer's responsibility to find affordable prices from a reliable source.
Good record keeping including data such as number and type of calls, average equipment used for each run AND expiration dates for solutions, BVMs, and many sterile items, will help to compile a standard purchase list; a regular audit of PCR records will provide an accurate account of use. The data should also note if there are specific seasons when some equipment is more in demand than others (just for example, summertime swimming or winter skiing mishaps). If every month the same equipment is used, the cost might be lowered if automatic purchases are made. (An automatic purchase can be modified down the road if demand changes.)
If purchase versus use data suggests that an item (such as cold packs during the summer) has heavier use by season, then ordering less or more based on the season is more cost efficient since many of these items have expiration dates and too much supply can wind up being trashed. While all the equipment listed in NYS's "Part 800 - Emergency Medical Services" is required to be always on the rig and/or at the station, it is foolhardy and costly to stockpile items, even if you got a great price for the bulk order, that wind up being discarded because they passed an expiration date. If your agency has multiple stations and you have a supply of soon-to-expire items, channel the bulk (not all) of those items to the station that indicates the most potential use.
Efficient and cost-saving practices will help to ensure expedient response and treatment as well as saving taxpayers (if publicly funded) or company money. Crews should always replace items used upon return to base. Routine rig checks of equipment should not be the first step in deciding what needs to be ordered, but rather a safeguard and should include checking the operational readiness (such as EKG or Suction batteries) as well as vehicle readiness for response.