By GENE ESPY
Marty Robinson of the Redmond Regional Medical Center Emergency Management Service spoke to the Summerville-Trion Optimist Club Friday about the service since it took over the emergency ambulance runs in Chattooga County in 2011.
Commissioner and Optimist Club President Jason Winters introduced the speaker and said that the deal between the county and Redmond has led to a “tremendous amount of savings for the county.”
“We would never have been able to provide the level of service that Redmond has,” Winters said.
The commissioner said that since Redmond has taken over the ambulance service, typically there are four ambulances on duty in the county.
“I appreciate the relationship that we have been able to build with Redmond,” Commissioner Winters said.
“We have a great group of EMS members,” Robinson said. “There is still a large number of individuals (over 50 percent) that were working back in 2011 that are still here, and they are doing a good job.”
Redmond has the ability to have 13, 24-hour trucks every day in service.
Last year, Redmond EMS received 18,153 911 calls in the region.
“A total of 5,013 of those calls came from this county,” Robinson said. “That is a pretty hefty increase in volume from 2011.”
Most all of those calls would have to be transported from 40 to 45 miles depending on where the people are picked up.
“That is one of the challenges Jason and the county had with the ambulance service,” Robinson said. “If you go out of town and you don’t have the resources to back them, then you can get an ambulance in a quick time.”
If you look at it, the cost of it today to provide 24-hour ambulance care is about $500,000 a year. That is an average cost to pay your employees and benefits, the truck itself and equipment and maintenance and that kind of stuff, he continued.
“We figure it’s about $500,000 a year for one truck. That cost has gone up over the years. What has not gone up is reimbursement,” Robinson explained. “Medicaid has not increased any reimbursement. Matter of fact, they went down a couple years ago. So those are challenges EMS faces and challenges you cannot beat unless you have a different business model. I’m glad that we were able to get an opportunity to bring ambulance services up here.” Thirty-eight percent of those emergency calls go to Redmond. That’s pretty good and helps us maintain the ambulance service. It’s not a secret thing that people coming to Redmond help fund that. As a service, we have 112 employees today. We are a few short but every ambulance service in the world is a few short, according to Robinson. Fifty-two of them are fulltime paramedics. Fifteen are part time. Twenty-three are fulltime EMTs. Redmond has a medical director who is a physician that oversees everything that we do.
Of cours, they have me as the service director and I have an administrative assistant, who you all probably know,” he said. “Chastity Bridges is my administrative assistant. We have three majors and Herbert Dodd is one of those.” Education is an important thing that we give out to the community. Those come in the form of CPR classes, stop the bleed classes we did with the Chattooga County School System and the Trion School System.
“We are in the process of working with school bus drivers and getting that set up,” Robinson said.
The trauma commission donated kits that we have to provide the training. All of that is free of charge. They have a logistics person because the Redmond EMS services three counties and they use a lot of supplies. Somebody has to take care of all that.
“We have a quality control person that looks at every report we do and makes sure we did the right thing and followed the protocols,” Robinson added. “They help to make sure all the missing pieces are there. We have two fleet mechanics, and this is something that started up when I came onboard.”
They have 22 ambulances and have two supervisor vehicles, vans and all kinds of vehicles. Those things break down. They are like your car at home. They break down. You drive it one day and it runs great and the next day it breaks down. . . It was a big startup cost because that equipment is not cheap. You had to put in racks and do all this kind of stuff.
“But over the course of the two years, it has helped us maintain our fleet and get them back on the road. One of the problems we had is you take one to the shop for repairs and it is put in the line with 10 others waiting to be repaired. It’s a week before they get it out,” Robinson said.
We logged about 5,000 hours of community service programs and education things. About 450-500 of those hours are up here in Chattooga County with the guys doing stuff like football games and those kinds of things. We are a member of the regional disaster team. Basically, it is made up of all the ambulance services. If there is a disaster anywhere in the state, they give us a call. . . We have 22 ambulances and we have 14 on the road every day. Then we have reserve trucks and two supervisor vehicles. We have two logistic vans because if one breaks down, you still have to move supplies. You’ve got to have a backup and that is why everything comes in twos. . . . We have disaster trailers, an event trailer and a decon trailer. One that we added last year is that we added a bus. We had it donated. We got a bedding system donated by the state. It makes the bus able to carry six or eight patients at one time. It’s in the event of a mass casualty event and we need to move people. It also gives us enough room to have a command center. It’s at the paint shop waiting to go out. We have 10 stations that we maintain across our response area. Redmond EMS just as a service is a huge service line that the hospital has to maintain and keep up. It’s a big business.
We operate in urban areas, eight minutes and 59 seconds is our average response time. We shoot for that and we don’t want to go over that. In rural areas, it is 12 minutes and 59 seconds. That is the maximum. I’m pleased with our response times. As you guys know, we have some really rural areas up here.