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EMA board approves response changes

By Staff
Melissa Cason
The Franklin County 911 board voted Thursday to update the rules for the Emergency Medical Services in Franklin County.
The new requirements will ensure that all ambulance services will be staffed by qualified paramedics.
During the board's regular meeting, they voted to mandate that all ambulance services respond to 911 calls with a paramedic truck.
The old rules stated that a paramedic truck was expected on all 911 calls, but the new rules state that a paramedic truck is required on all 911 calls.
The rules only allow a basic truck to answer a call when there is not a paramedic truck in the area. Once a paramedic becomes available, 911 will send that paramedic to the scene.
"This rule is designed to allow the service to send what they have if there is not a paramedic available in the area," 911 board president John James said.
"Once a paramedic becomes available, they would automatically be sent on the call."
James said the rule will allow a service to send a basic truck to the scene because there is not a paramedic available in the area.
The new rules also include a process of discipline for the service should the rules be broken. The discipline begins with losing two calls to being removed from 911 service.
"We included the discipline measures so that we will have a progression of discipline," James said.
With the old rules, the only discipline was a two-call suspension and did not account for repeat incidents.
The update on the rules stem from a complaint filed against Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service in Russellville after the service did not respond to a 911 call with a paramedic truck.
The service was dispatched to Highway 43 South at the bottom of Spruce Pine Mountain at 12:15 p.m. on March 20. Pleasant Bay was in route by 12:16 and on the scene with an intermediate Emergency Medical Technician. A paramedic truck was supposed to be in route. However, 911 logs indicate that the paramedic truck was not in route until 12:25 p.m., 10 minutes after the call was taken, but the truck was cancelled at 12:26 p.m.
James said because it took the service 10 minutes to get a paramedic in route on the call, the board considers the service to be in violation of the Franklin County EMS rules, and suspended the service for two rotation calls.
"In our opinion, paramedic service was not provided since it was 10 minutes before the paramedic truck was rolling," James said.
Pleasant Bay owner Elzie Malone said he didn't do anything wrong, and insists he had a paramedic truck in route, but he canceled in because it was not needed.
"I did nothing wrong," Malone said. "There was no need for a paramedic on the call so I cancelled the paramedic truck."
Malone said the injuries in the accident consisted of a broken leg, and any EMT could and did effectively handle the situation.
The Franklin County EMS rules also state that a paramedic must clear the patient with their medical control physician before allowing an EMT to transport the patient. However, no paramedic ever responded to the call because it was cancelled.
James said the new guidelines also allow an ambulance service to take themselves out of rotation should they need to take a private line call or transport.
"We are making a good faith effort to have a paramedic on every [911] call," James said.
EMA director and 911 board member Roy Gober said the rules set forth evolved over time as solutions to problems.
"We had a problem so we'd make a rule to solve it," Gober said. "We want somebody out there helping the patient."