It was only an hour till the ambulance got there..
They had to dispatch 13 EMS stations until they finally had an ambulance on the call.
An EMS station in Saint Marys County has 5 minutest to have apparatus on the street, if after five minutes and no response they dispatch the next two stations. Five minutes later with no ambulance responding the next two, etc... etc.....
If after 5 EMS stations have been dispatched (at least 10 minutes) and there is no ambulance responding, the fire department is dispatched if they were not already on the call for another reason.
This happens regularly in Mechanicsville.
They say Saint Mary's does not need paid EMS.
It was almost an hour before an ambulance got on scene.
The fire department was on scene performing patient care just waiting for an ambulance.
The public really doesn't realize how bad the situation is for EMS in Saint Marys.
The fire departments do not have any real issues for the most part.
Increasing call volumes and less volunteers is killing the volunteer EMS system. Most of them have regular day jobs and cant be at their EMS station during the day.
Many of the volunteer firefighters in Saint Marys are career firefighters elsewhere and balance their days off from shift work ensuring coverage, the same cannot be said of EMS.
Its the same as a traffic light, someone important is going to need an ambulance or die before something is done.
The citizens dont want to pay for the service, Charles County is an excellent model for a combination career/volunteer EMS service.
They can afford it because the career crews can bill for transport.
It cuts down on people calling an ambulance because they have had a headache for three days and tying up an ambulance from a true emergency.
I've noticed this being a problem as well. I was a disabled motorist on the side of the road across from a fairly bad accident last Thursday around 7'ish a.m. (On Rt. 235 just past Rt. 5) I saw an ambulance out of Avenue had to be called for a transport. The person they were transporting was on the side of the road on a stretcher for a good 20-25 minutes before being transported.
This past Tuesday, 2 doors down from my house, an ambulance had to be called out of Hollywood for a transport for the sick call. Hollywood rolled in behind the medic. Both events were in Mechanicsville.
I hear about this alot. I've heard that Leonardtown is the worst with no having anyone to cover. I know that Hollywood covers alot of their calls. My mailbox has plenty of recruiting propaganda. I hope that they get some volunteers soon.
Just to clear up a few things from the previous poster. The Calvert EMS unit from Prince Frederick is either the 6th or 7th due EMS unit to that area. Not that that makes it any better, but far more accurate than 13. Engine 23 marked up with St Mary’s Fire Board the same time the EMS unit responded with Calvert’s dispatch center. It is a pretty long response time. Much like someone pointed out earlier, that is how mutual aide works. However, this incident is pretty painful to hear as it comes on the heels of SWOT Assessment.
I agree, Charles does have an interesting system. So do many other jurisdictions in the Mid-Atlantic region. Just because it works for Charles doesn’t mean it will work for St. Mary’s. The county demographics are completely different. One of the biggest problems I have seen in Southern Maryland is many public safety agencies rarely examine systems outside their “bubble”. What I mean by this is fire or EMS systems that aren’t in our backyard. I’ve learned some of my most interesting information from surprising sources and places in the country and beyond.
Lastly, EMS billing may help fund the salaries of a career system (more so in the earlier stages). It will not cover all of the expenses associated with hiring employees. Furthermore we have NO evidence that any correlation exists between billing and a decline in call volume regardless of call complaint. This is a common misnomer used by opponents of EMS billing.
Reading the article, it looks like the assessment made a few good suggestions that are easy fixes for the system providing all the stakeholders are willing to make some changes. If they aren’t it doesn’t matter who you hire to function as the EMS Manager, they will fail. Hopefully your county commissioners take the recommendations seriously for the benefit of the all those that conduct business and live in the county.
EMS is constantly evolving and it’s a challenge for any system to keep up. My hats off to the volunteer and career personnel that serve in Southern Maryland for accepting the challenge to provide a service many take for granted until that emergency strikes close to home.
I wonder if the problems are isolated to just the Mechanicsville fire house location (services Mechanicsville and Charlotte Hall)? If so, why don't they consider some paid positions there? It would be horrible if somebody died from lack of a response from their local fire station... waiting for somebody to respond from elsewhere. We've had huge growth in this county the past few years so it might be time for some changes.
It has been discussed many times on the forums but if some people would quit using ambulances as a private taxi service to the hospital; ambulances and medical personnel might be available for the more serious calls.
I listen to the Calvert scanner all the time at home and sometimes in my office. I hear what I percieve to be- a lot of BS calls. I would hate to be in a serious car accident and need help when the closest ambulance is transporting someone to the hospital with a hangnail or an ear wax problem!
As a member of the Fire/EMS service in St. Mary's, it's obvious we have issues, from the outside and the inside. As EMS_Chief said though, paid positions aren't going to fix this issue. Sure, one paid crew in Mechanicsville is a great idea. But, when they routinely have the second and third call to Charlotte Hall or Morganza or anywhere else, what's that paid EMS crew going to do? Nothing because they're committed on the first run.
The other thing killing the volunteer EMS system is the length of the classes. The current class right now is running on five months. When you're doing that three nights a week, plus occasional weekend classes, it's fairly easy to see why we don't have a good crop of volunteers. This isn't a St. Mary's county issue. It's a statewide (even countrywide) issue.
As for that article, it's laughable and in the same sense, it isn't. Dispatchers don't know where the apparatus is? If a call goes out and there is any apparatus close by, that apparatus (be it fire or EMS) is going to request to run the assignment. You have ambulances responding from Leonardtown to take in a run in Lexington Park or Hermanville or Charlotte Hall.
Hiring an EMS manager is stupid. That will be another position within the county government that is absolutely useless (Bill Jones, I'm looking at you, Mr. Fire/EMS recruiter...) We don't need an EMS manager. We need leadership within the departments that aren't responding or are struggling. They need to look to other departments and see what they're doing to stay responding.
I think doing a tax-break for employers that let their employees respond to incidents is good incentive. I also think that this should be expanded to ANY employer that has any volunteer on their record books and can respond to a station that needs help. If someone from Valley Lee is working in Lexington Park or Mechanicsville, and they have a call but they're waiting on crew, and the person is an EMT, they should be permitted to leave work to handle it.
Just my two cents.
The entire situation is unfortunate, from talking to people many are under the misconception that emergency personnel in Saint Marys County are paid personnel.
They are also under the conception that fire and EMS in Saint Marys County is joint as in many other jurisdictions.
In fact, only one department in Saint Marys County that combines fire and EMS into one station. Valley Lee is the only department in the county that does this.
So as in many other places the fire department is not responsible for the ambulance. The response most people have to that is why not become a member of both?
Each one has different requirements as far as drills and meetings go to maintain membership. There is simply not the time to be a member of both, have a full time job, family, kids etc. Many people have trouble maintaining their membership with just one organization.
As I stated earlier earlier the main issue in the county is with EMS, both BLS and ALS.
I will explain for those unfamiliar with EMS terminology.
BLS is basic life support. Emergency Medical Responder (recently changed from first responder and is a 51 hour course), and Emergency Medical Technician Basic. EMT-B ( now a 165 hour class)
ALS is advanced life support, EMT-P (a paramdic).
An EMT-B is trained in CPR an can administer basic life saving drugs such as epinephrine, oxygen, nitro, activated charcoal, glucose and other basic functions of care.
A paramedic has thousands of hours of training. They can perform an EKG in the field to see dangerous rhythms, cardioversion (keep the heart in rhythm using different shocks, not just shock using an AED) intubate (breathing tube, establish an IV and push many different medications through the line, and other hospital functions in the pre hospital setting.
So in Saint Marys while an ambulance might get out the door right away (or not) as a BLS unit (EMTB) there might only be one or two ALS units in the county.
So if there is a call in Ridge requiring ALS the "Medic unit" might be in mechanicsville and have to run from one end of the county to the other meeting the ambulance enroute to the hospital, or the medic unit might be on another call and unable to provide any ALS care to that individual who could see great clinical benefit from ALS care in the prehospital setting.
As stated earlier, if after five ems stations have failed to respond the fire department is dispatched to ensure medical care is being provided until whoever, from wherever, shows up to transport.
And yes, mutual aid is a great thing, The Leonardtown/Hollywood is very lucky because they have the hospital right there, if there is no ambulance available, dispatch can pull ambulances clearing the hospital to run calls in that area, however the downside is that the ambulance is longer away from its home area leaving it potentially without an ambulance.
We had the same problems here in Calvert. I say "Had" because I am no longer an active Member of Calvert Advanced Life Support. As a Paramedic, I ran mutual aid to St, Marys, Charles, and AA Counties.A solution to some of the Scratched calls might be to Hire a Day Crew. Both Fire, and Rescue as well as ALS. It is usually the Day Time hours that have the hardest times getting Aparatus out. I would have hated to hear that when I was volunteering my time, but it is something that needs to be considered, because of the population increase in the tri-county area.