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Bertie revamps EMS response

WINDSOR – Bertie County Commissioners agreed to allow the closest EMS unit to respond to emergency calls after approving a policy here September 7.

Emergency Management Coordinator Rickey Freeman appeared before the board to request the adoption of a policy that would allow, among other things, non-emergency providers to answer emergency calls if they are in closest proximity to them.

“When our new medical director (Dr. Michael Lowry) came on board, he looked at our policies,” Freeman said. “He had some issues that he wanted to see us better use our resources.”

One item of the new policy is to allow a non-emergency ALS (Advanced Life Support) provider to answer calls if they are closer than emergency units.

According to the policy as written, “If a non-emergent ALS provider can arrive at the scene three minutes or more faster than the primary 911 responding provider, then the 911 responding provider should 10-22 (disregard the call) and return to service for their district. If less than three minutes difference in arrival times, then the primary 911 responding provider and the volunteer non-emergent provider should both continue enroute to the scene to assist with patient care.”

Freeman said Dr. Lowry’s number one concern was providing the best possible care for citizens.

“What he’s looking at is patient care,” Freeman said.

Freeman said an example was if a person had a heart attack at church in Merry Hill on Sunday and a non-emergency transport was coming back from dropping off a patient at Chowan Hospital.

He said that non-emergency provider would be much closer than Colerain or Windsor units trying to respond to the scene.

Commissioner J. Wallace Perry said the non-emergency providers could not be made to do that, but if they were close and wanted to help, they could.

“It cuts down on the response time,” Freeman said. “If I’m sick, I don’t care who comes to get me as long as they are qualified to take care of me.”

Commission Vice Chairman L.C. Hoggard III asked what would stop a non-emergency provider from stationing units throughout the county to be sure they were closer.

“If that happens, we will address it,” Freeman promised.

Commissioner Rick Harrell asked why it would be a problem.

Perry said it was because rescue squads were able to bill for their calls and it would hinder them being able to do so if non-emergency providers were stationed in the vicinity.

“So it’s a money issue,” Harrell noted.

Perry then made a motion to authorize the policy with Harrell offering a second. It passed by a 5-0 vote.