To reduce wait times for emergency medical services calls and improve the quality of life for citizens, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office is working to expand the skills and services of its assistants.
At the Jasper County Board of Supervisors meeting on December 28, Sheriff John Halferty gave a presentation on ongoing efforts and future plans to improve the emergency medical services his department can provide.
âI just want to say before I start that I have a lot of great ideas in mind, but it’s my people who really deserve credit for putting it all together,â Halferty said.
Almost all of Halferty’s presentation focused on the current state of the county’s volunteer EMS programs and how the Sheriff’s Office wishes to take on some of that work.
âI have volunteered with several agencies across the county for over 22 years. So this report is not just coming from a sheriff, but also from someone who works within the system, âHalferty said.
The proposal consisted of several parts, but at the heart of it, the board had to approve his office to use the extra money from the county’s CARES law to purchase additional equipment and fund additional teams for MPs. .
Halferty said two assistants are certified and work as volunteer paramedics, but due to a lack of equipment and his office is not state-certified to provide paramedic-level patient care, both Assistants are not permitted to operate at full capacity when on duty.
All Halferty assistants are trained and certified to perform basic rescue operations, which primarily consist of CPR and the proper use of automated external defibrillators. But because the sheriff’s office only requires BLS training, it is only certified by the state to administer this level of care.
Regardless of their individual skill level, when officers respond to a medical emergency, they are not permitted to administer medication or more advanced care on the scene.
So, to combat this untapped resource and provide some relief to already overworked EMS volunteers, Halferty proposed that his office go to the state and be allowed to provide paramedic-level care when answering calls. medical and allows all MPs who have paramedic certification to prioritize medical care. calls.
WHAT THEY WORK
To help supervisors better understand the stress that the current volunteer EMS service is under, Halferty explained to them how a normal emergency call typically goes for the responding volunteer EMS service.
âOur dispatch center receives twice as many medical emergency calls as we do fire emergency calls,â said Halferty. âBut due to the use of volunteer paramedics, our county EMS can be slow to respond. “
Right now, according to its report, people facing a medical emergency typically have to wait 30 to 40 minutes for help to arrive.
When a call arrives, volunteers must give up what they are doing at home or at work, go to their post, and then drive the ambulance to the person in the emergency.
âOur volunteers are great at their jobs, but sometimes they’re just stretched out. Right now, 5 to 10 percent of volunteers who are certified paramedics provide about 90 percent of emergency calls, âHalferty said. âMost EMS and firefighting services are combined, but there are a lot more medical emergencies than fires, so the few members who are certified paramedics get a lot more calls than their firefighting counterparts. “
This high demand placed on such a small number of qualified volunteers is the main reason for Halferty’s proposal.
Documents provided at the meeting cited six different proposed elements that Halferty said if implemented in his own office will improve the state of the county’s current EMS services, help reduce wait times and help reduce wait times. alleviate some of the demand for volunteers.
Halferty’s proposal called for allowing patrol units marked with reserve assistants – who are qualified and trained paramedics – to work up to six to 12 hours of duty, during which time they are on duty. would perform some normal patrol duties but prioritize and respond to any EMS. calls received during their shift.
Other items also include the purchase of specific and advanced medical equipment to save lives, while allowing existing patrol units to use more equipment.
The proposal documents also provided an estimate of the costs for the implementation of the new program.
According to the proposal, “funds will be used for two standby assistants / paramedics working a total of twelve 12-hour shifts each month, during peak periods for EMS calls, at $ 300 per shift for a total of $ 43,000 “.
But thanks to the efforts of Lt. Brad Shutts’ initial application in 2020, the county received an additional $ 181,000 in undesignated funds from the CARE Act. The proposal stated that these funds could be used for this project and “would benefit not only the sheriff’s office, but also our EMS services and, ultimately, our citizens as well.”
LONG TERM PLANS
Another part of the agreement also states that within 18 months the program will be reviewed by the board of directors to determine if it produces the desired results.
âWhile I believe this program will be successful, it is my duty to the residents of Jasper County to ensure that this money is used in the most efficient way possible. So hopefully after 18 months we will be able to look at our established program and determine if it is working if it is working as efficiently as possible, âsaid Halferty.
The board of directors voted to approve Halferty’s proposal.
The target date for the start of the new program is March 1.
Contact Abby Knipfel at 641-792-4687 ext. 6531 or [email protected]