First Med reports speedy response time

Published 9:55 am Thursday, November 21, 2013

WINDSOR – First, when seconds count.

That’s the progress report First Med Emergency Services has given to the Bertie County Board of Commissioners at the regular meeting of the board at Mt.Ararat Baptist Church on Cow Track Road here on Monday night.

Matt Leicester, the county’s director with First Med, presented the report to the board complete with charts and graphs displaying response times in the service’s first 45 days of operation.

First Med, based out of Wilmington, became the first privatized emergency management system in North Carolina when they took over from the county’s former all-volunteer EMS service. They began 24-hour operations at three station locations (Aulander, Colerain, and Windsor) throughout the county on October 1 on an annual budget of $310,000.

Based on how the report was received by the commissioners – as well as the responses received from county residents – those first days have gone extremely well.

Throughout the first 31 days of operation, the entire month of October, the First Med report states their response time on emergency calls for all their stations throughout the county was just over eleven minutes (11.09). And even though the stats are only for half of the month of November, that same response time in now down under eleven minutes at 10.94.

“As of the 17th of this month we were actually under eleven minutes,” said Leicester. “So that’s a little bit better than it was last month.”

Equally impressive has been the “chute time” – which is the time from when their pagers activate to alert them to a call for response, to when they are actually in the vehicles and ready to roll out.

“We have a standard of 90 seconds-out-the-door,” Leicester points out. “For the month of October we were 88-and-a-half seconds, and we’re already a full second better than that (87.5 seconds) for the month of November thus far.”

Another graph in First Med’s presentation showed the number of responses from the first day of the month through the 17th day.

“October 1 through October 17 we had 153 responses,” he emphasized. “We’re required (by the contract) to be 20 minutes or less (to a call) 90 percent of the time.

“We were a little rough in the early part of it: 88 percent (under 20 minutes) for the first 17 days and 12 percent where we were over 20 minutes,” Leicester added. “So far, though, for the month of November we are at 92 percent of all calls under 20 minutes.”

The First Med graphs shows they have answered 151 calls as of November 17.

Finally, Leicester indicated that for an additional 118 calls to complete the month of October there was a higher percentage of speedy response time.

“We finished the entire month with 217 total responses and we met 92 percent of those calls in 20 minutes or less, and that is all calls,” he indicated.

“One little tidbit, and there wasn’t a good way to chart this, was our primary calls, which is the first outcalls for each one of those districts,” he added. “If a truck was out, we moved another truck closer to keep that response time down, but we don’t count that if that takes a little longer than 20 minutes. But I’m delighted to report we are 95 percent on all primary calls in all districts for the month of October.

Leicester said there was nothing at the present time the commissioners could do to aid First Med in meeting its needs and he went on to praise his response teams.

“We’ve been very satisfied with the quality of work the employees have done,” he stated. “We’ve been well received in the community, the hospital (Vidant Bertie Memorial) has been very receptive and we’ve gotten compliments from them on the job we’re doing, so from our standpoint we feel like the county and the towns we’re in have been more than supportive of us.”

Led by board chairman J. Wallace Perry, the commissioners in turn individually praised First Med for the report with Commissioner Ron Wesson, who serves on the Vidant Bertie Hospital Advisory Board, stating that hospital staffs were extremely pleased.

“They thought the fact we had paramedic level care across this county – the first county in the state of North Carolina to have that – was outstanding,” Wesson said.

Leicester modestly accepted the applause to that comment with more compliments for his staffers.

“We appreciate the support and I stand up here on behalf of the 51 other employees that work for us and none of this would be possible without them,” he mused. “They make me look good standing up here and talking to you guys, but they’re doing all the work for that.”

Commissioner John Trent summed up the report by reminding those assembled that First Med is accomplishing this by employing Bertie County residents, both paramedic certified as well as those who work part-time.

“It’s a great thing,” Trent said. “The service and everything.”