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“911- Are emergency responders putting our safety in jeopardy?”
In a recently published article in The Herald and Lake Wylie Pilot, “York County taking steps to rein in competing rescue squads,” York County announced it would create contracts with emergency squads and purchase new software to allow the county to pinpoint ambulances, position them strategically and dispatch the unit closest to an emergency call.
The reason: Under the current “dual dispatch” system, competing units are racing each other to arrive on scene first, earning the right to treat the patient and collect payment, turning emergency response into a competition for dollars.
Lake Wylie is home to River Hills/Lake Wylie EMS, which has served our community with state-of-the-art equipment and competent staff and volunteers for years, giving patients a free ride. (The squad bills insurance companies, when patients have insurance, and is run on donations.)
The blue Piedmont Medical Center ambulances we see here, too, are for-profit.
Either way, patients can request a specific hospital, not only PMC in Rock Hill.
These racing ambulances threaten our public safety and our patient care.
The EMS coordinator for DHEC received complaints of “patient coercion, delay in patient care, and circumvention of the existing 911 system,” not from patients but from other EMS agencies against other agencies.
The goal of the county plan is to ensure calls are distributed fairly.
Piedmont EMS service has agreed to loan York County’s rescue squads four GPS tracking units, county assistant manager Anna Moore said.
Under the proposal, when York County dispatches calls, a supervisor at Piedmont will determine which is closer.
Part of the county plan also involves establishing contracts with the rescue squads and requiring them all to receive the same training and follow the same protocols.
Piedmont may be the agency to provide that direction, leaders said.
With the county placing so much weight on decisions toward Piedmont and with the “ambulance war” that has been waged, we understand why these other squads may feel cold about this plan.
“If you take it out of the hands of (Piedmont) and give those routers to dispatchers in Rock Hill, I trust them,” said Dick Mann, of River Hill/Lake Wylie EMS. “They are not beholden to anybody.”
We agree, and we back our local EMS squad.
Make a change.