By Stan Welch
Anderson County Council will hold a special called meeting Thursday night to receive input and hear the concerns of the various EMS providers concerning the proposed contract with the county. The County recently offered a sixty day extension of the current contract, to allow the various providers to study the draft of the new contract and to submit any concerns or questions they might have in writing, prior to Thursday evening’s meeting.
According to Dan Durham, a long time member of the Pelzer Rescue Squad’s board of directors, there are several issues which concern him and other members of the board, as well as the squad’s staff. One of the main issues is the proper and efficient implementation of the computer assisted dispatch system (CAD). The purpose of the CAD system is to both dispatch the closest EMS unit, as well as transmit information to the system that provides accurate data on such issues as response time.
The effective implementation of the Cad system is dependent on the presence of an automatic vehicle locater (AVL) on each ambulance. Durham says that several years passed between acquisition of the AVLs and their installation on the ambulances. Durham says the delay was in large part due to the inability of the AVLs to communicate with the CAD system.
The system also provides record keeping functions, or used to, according to Durham. “One of our concerns is that the brunt of the task of providing response times and other performance data falls on the squads. At one time, the software for the CAD system also recorded that data and made it readily available. For some reason, a few years ago, that part of the software was deleted or disengaged. We still don’t understand why. But the squads do not have the administrative manpower to do a job that was once automatically done by dispatch.”
Durham says that several of the squads also question the contract’s requirement that within three months of signing, the squads will begin training for accreditation.
Medshore is currently the only provider which is recognized by the accrediting organization. “The problem is that DHEC maintains the standards that each unit must meet. This additional recognition accomplishes nothing. It essentially just costs the squads money, but does nothing to raise the standard of care.”
Other issues of concern are the level of fines for failing to meet performance standards; an issue that the public safety committee has made clear that it will address by lowering those fines. The squads are also concerned that the contract will essentially be for a ten month term, due to the two month extension of the existing contract. “We’re a little worried that we will be making several changes, and the contract won’t even be for a full year.
Durham said that while the majority of the squads have the same basic concerns, they also give credit to the committee and its chairman, Ray Graham. “Chairman Graham is in his first few months on Council, but he has waded right in and taken this task on. He is pushing a number of things that will help the squad. We appreciate the work he and his committee have done.”
The meeting will be held at 6:30 Thursday evening and will be limited to only the topic of the EMS contract.