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EMS returns to plain English for dispatching

Staff writer

A switch to medical codes for dispatching ambulances has placed too much burden on dispatchers to decide what code is most accurate, Marion County Emergency Medical Service Director Steve Smith told Marion County Commission on Monday.

Because of that and emergency medical technicians’ preferences, EMS is switching back to plain English for initial dispatch. Medical codes may work better for bigger, full-time ambulance departments, but they aren’t what works best for Marion County, Smith and the commission determined.

After the meeting, Smith said the transition to dispatch codes was more difficult to make than expected, especially for volunteers who are unable to take a lot of call time. Plain English dispatch is also easier and quicker for the dispatchers.

“It was just a learning experience,” Smith said.

Ambulances on pace to exceed 2010 mark

Although ambulance transports in September were fewer than September 2010, EMS remains on pace to significantly surpass the number of ambulance calls for the year, Smith said.

Marion County ambulances responded to 107 calls in September, down from 112 in 2010. Through nine months, ambulances have responded to 920 calls, up from 779 in 2010, when total calls for the year were 1,039.

The Hillsboro ambulance was busiest in September, responding to 36 calls in the month; Marion, 30; Peabody, 21; Florence, 10; Tampa, 7; and the back-up unit, 3. Goessel first-responders went on five calls; Lincolnville, two; and Florence, one.

There were 26 medical emergencies, 20 transfers, 19 transports, 14 standbys, 10 cardiac emergencies, 10 falls, 5 motor vehicle accidents, 3 canceled calls, and no other calls.

The county will purchase a new ambulance for $128,885 in 2012. The new ambulance will replace the one in Peabody, and Tampa will have its choice of keeping its current one or using the current Peabody ambulance. Whichever of those remains will be used as the back-up ambulance in Marion, and the current back-up will be sold.

Out of a class of seven, five students have completed their EMT-Basic certification, and another is likely this year, Smith said.

Six Hillsboro firefighters are taking a first responder class, and seven people throughout the county have started the next EMT-B class.

Quarterly write-offs of uncollectible accounts were $3,225 for six accounts.

Last modified Oct. 19, 2011

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