Kevin Boozer Staff Writer
October 30, 2013
FAIRFIELD COUNTY — Fairfield County EMS is below the national goal of 10 minutes in its response times, something EMS Director Mike Tanner said is extraordinary. With an average response time of nine minutes and 12 seconds, Fairfield County is one of the tops in the state.
Tanner expressed thanks to Fairfield County Council for have vision to logistically place ambulances throughout the county. That system status management leads to the response times. If two trucks are out on a call, a third truck shifts to an in-between location that is equidistant from the vacated stations.
That minimizes response time to outlying areas as calls are being worked. Tanner said EMS protocols ensure the average time from dispatch to being en route is one minute 46 seconds. The average time from then to arriving on scene is seven minutes and 26 seconds.
Paramedics and other EMS staff work 48 hours on and then 96 hours off. They average three calls per day per unit. Tanner said Fairfield County offers EMS workers an environment where they can receive top notch training and use the latest in equipment.
“You are in the back of the ER, really now, when you are in the truck,” he said.
Fairfield EMS trucks have mobile X-ray and CT scan equipment. They also are equipped with ultrasound equipment, a great tool in diagnosing internal bleeding, a ruptured lung or OB problems in a trauma patient, according to Tanner.
Tanner said Fairfield County is one of the first in South Carolina to have ultrasound technology in its ambulances, if not the first, county to do so. He said nearly all of the Fairfield County paramedics have done ultrasound training.
Additionally, paramedics now can start a 12-lead on a patient, enabling a heart attack patient to be wheeled straight in a cath lab upon arrival at a hospital. Those crucial minutes can help save heart muscle in the patient. Tanner said that cuts 30 to 40 minutes off the time a patient comes in the door to when a balloon procedure could be completed..
Tanner said EMS truly is a team effort aimed at providing the residents of the county and contiguous areas with the best possible emergency and rescue services possible.
As such, every call gets reviewed by an EMS captain and every life threatening call is reviewed by physician, director and training officer. There are daily crew evaluations, daily shift training sessions, monthly in-service trainings and monthly Q&A Sessions with Med Control.
Additionally, every employee must maintain ACLS, BLS, PHTLS, PALS and State Certification. Paramedics receive over 1,000 hours of training to become certified.
Training response areas of Fairfield County EMS include extrication and stabilization; high and low angle rope rescue; confined space rescue; remote rescue; mass casualty response and triage. Fairfield County EMS also undergoes training for hazardous materials and has extra drills to ensure preparedness in the unlikely event of an emergency at the V.C. Summer Nuclear station.