Lexington Co. Council approves step to alleviate non-emergency demand on county EMS

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 7:45 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - EMS systems are designed to take patients to hospitals in emergency situations.

On Tuesday, Lexington County EMS leaders presented figures to the Lexington County Council showing this is often not the case, with 25 percent of patient transports resulting from non-emergency situations.

The council responded by granting the EMS department a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a private ambulance service to take over non-emergency calls in the county.

The RFP allows Lexington County EMS to begin a fact-finding mission on what private ambulance services would be willing and able to take on approximately 8,000 non-emergency patient transports a year.

EMS Chief Brian Hood and Director of Emergency Services David Kerr gave a presentation to the council Tuesday morning, outlining how the non-emergency calls were straining public health resources.

They gave examples of people calling about minor injuries hours or even days later, including one woman who called about getting honey in her eye.

In another example, one patient has called for EMS service 153 times so far in 2021.

“It’s removing it from the citizen when they do have the chainsaw accident, or they do fall out of a tree, or they do have a massive car crash, these are the calls, the strokes and the heart attacks that we need to be available for, and we simply can’t be,” Hood said.

The presentation states the Lexington County EMS can transport 100 patients per day and is currently averaging 90.

The EMS workforce statewide is critically understaffed, and Hood said the move to bring in a private service would be valuable for recruitment and retention efforts.

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“That extra 25 percent, if we could remove that, and those guys are running fewer calls per day per truck even at a higher acuity level, they feel a whole lot more appreciated, they feel like they’re making a difference every day and is what staff absolutely needs,” he said.

State EMS Association Executive Director Henry Lewis said the association likes the idea and supports local solutions for local problems.

“Here in South Carolina we’re very fortunate that all of our EMS providers work well together, and there’s not a rift that exists between public and private EMS and this is also a great opportunity to expand the EMS workforce by creating private-sector jobs,” he said.

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