ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–A new emergency medical service system is being proposed in Anderson County. The new emergency medical services (EMS) system could unite all EMS services under county control.
When there’s an emergency in Anderson County, currently, any one of seven different EMS providers could be responding.
“At the current time, Anderson County has seven different EMS providers in this county. We have seven different chiefs. We have seven different business structures, and essentially the county has no control,” said Don McCown, Deputy Director for Anderson County Emergency Medical Services.
Now, EMS could be placed under one united system under county control. McCown said if the proposal passes, Priority Ambulance, also known as Medshore–will be the ambulance service provider with a $1.9 million contract.
“The significant difference is the paramedics will no longer work for Medshore Ambulance Service, they will no longer work for the various EMS agencies in this county, they will now become employees of Anderson County. So, Anderson County will control those paramedics. They will be under one medical director and medical control board,” McCown said.
Paramedics will be in quick response vehicles, (QRV’s) ready to respond to critical situations. Paramedics will get to a scene faster, and will be able to provide care before an ambulance that will carry two emergency medical technicians (EMT’s).
“I think Anderson County is being proactive in what they’re doing, and what they’re doing is they’re trying to prepare themselves for the future. So, we’re going to take paramedics and take them on calls they’re needed and we’re not going to waste them on services they don’t,” McCown said.
McCown said soon, three trained people could respond to medical calls, versus two.
“So now what we’re doing, we’re not only enhancing the quality of life and the quality of care, we’re also going to provide more resources that have ever been before,” McCown said.
Some people in the area are still concerned about the proposal.
“The reason why, I can call 911 and they’ll go to the rescue squad, and they’ll come down, and I know them. They don’t have to look up an address, they know where I live. Everybody is familiar with names,” said resident Floyd “Coon” New. “I believe they’re going backwards because they already have trouble up there getting ambulances.”
McCown said the new plan will increase the coverage area and double the number of responders in the county.
“For example, the current system that we run in this county, right now is 16.5 ambulances and three paramedic QRV’s. Of those 16.5 ambulances 14 of them have paramedics on them. The new system will require 17 ambulances and 14 paramedic QRV’s. So essentially, the county is going to put out the same amount of paramedic QRV’s that are currently in the county now,” McCown said.
“Those ambulances are going to be stationed in the same areas that they are now. The paramedics will be stationed in additional areas beside those units so that they can cut response time down,” McCown said.
“This is the right thing for the county. This only enhances our quality of care to our citizens. It enhances our response time capabilities. We’re essentially doubling the amount of responders out there that are capable of taking care of a medical emergency,” McCown said. “This is not a takeover. We’ve heard all these comments about these provider services taking over, it’s not. This is an enhancement to our current system,” McCown added.
McCown also said current staff will not lose their jobs.
“Everybody in this county will have a job. Nobody is going to lose their job. They have the same option to go to work for the provider…more than likely staying in the same area that they serve. The only thing that would probably change in that area is their uniform and their ambulance,” McCown said. “The communities are going to see is a different uniform and a different ambulance. It’s going to be the same people who were sitting there.”
The proposal will go before county council on Tuesday for a vote.
McCown said if passed, Medshore will have until September 1, to be in compliance. He also said this plan will save the county roughly $3 million, which will save dollars for taxpayers.