Concerned about the current movement over the proposed countywide emergency medical services (EMS), City of Powell Police Chief Gary Vest hosted a small meeting recently that included several of Delaware County’s EMS experts, minus the politicians, to look at the issue from a different angle.
“It’s not a formalized group,” Vest said. “There are no labels for it. I just got some people together and hosted a meeting.”
Vest said the people in attendance were Patrick Brandt, emergency communications (911) director; Fire Chief John Donahue, City of Delaware Fire Department; Chief Tom O’Brien, Liberty Township Fire Department; and Chief Michael Schuiling, Delaware County EMS.
“They each bring special things to the table,” Vest said. “I want them to be successful, because they are the ones that know what their jobs (entail). Instead of making it a political issue, we’re taking it back to the experts. They can vet the issues, put them out to smaller groups, and then they can go back to the politicians to offer solutions.”
Brandt said his part is to provide input and assistance on the run cards and how EMS is dispatched.
Vest said the EMS issue has become emotional and “has not been vetted through the operations side.”
“Protocols need to be built around the patients’ care,” he said. “We need to put patient care first. We were in error to discuss money before operations, because the money would guide us to the wrong solutions.”
Vest said the group talked about the “real issues at hand,” response times, who is closer, and how the 911 Center handles and dispatches calls.
“We need the experts in those areas involved to improve the quality of our services,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in local control and regional cooperation. In today’s world, we need to bring together all the resources.”
Vest said he is a believer in building services around the people and the geographic area. He said for the Powell/Liberty Township area, he currently supports having three paramedics to an ambulance, because it is a 20-25 minute ride to the hospital.
“As The Ohio State University Medical Center is built out ,maybe a two-paramedic (ambulance) will work, but we don’t have the services right now,” he said. “Don’t fault patient care for wanting to save money.”
Vest said though structure fires have declined over the years, the fire-based EMS model still plays a large part in vehicle crashes, whether paramedics are on a medic or a fire truck. Whoever gets there first, there is always a firefighter and a paramedic first on the scene.
“The fire model is built around having firefighter/paramedics on the (ambulances) and fire trucks,” he said. “In the case of a car crash, there is a great value of having firefighters and paramedics on the scene.”
Vest said he has heard people say they don’t want their local medic or fire department away in other jurisdictions. He said he would like the jurisdictions in the Delaware County to be more of the mind of “one community.”
“We need to take care of people the quickest possible way, and when the appropriate service shows up, we hand them off,” he said. “We can worry about who owes who afterward.”
Vest said his department recently switched out the automated external defibrillator (AED) to match those used by the Liberty Township Fire Department. He said the two AEDs were not compatible, so the Powell Police Department switched its system out to match in order to make handoffs smoother.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.