Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services has implemented changes recommended by a study of emergency response released last week. 

Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster said the county was sending an ambulance to Fairfield Glade when the ambulance stationed there is on a call.

“We are continuing to take steps to improve EMS and to better the health outcomes of those using our services,” Foster told the Chronicle. “We want to expand the First Responder program by training more volunteers and we are continuing to work on improving response times using technology. 

“The work is just beginning.”

The county had already converted its basic life support ambulance to an advanced life support ambulance — a move requiring only a change in staffing. As of Monday, the county is also rotating its ambulance fleet to cover areas left vacant when an ambulance is unavailable. 

The move follows a report from the County Technical Advisory Service that found the areas of the county with the highest demand for EMS services were Crossville downtown and Fairfield Glade.

Foster said the county has been working to improve EMS response for some time. He noted a new paging system that alerts personnel when they receive a call. New stretchers have been purchased thanks to a grant and video laryngoscopes have been donated for half the ambulances. More will be added this year.

The county has also ordered GPS devices to add to ambulances to help responders locate the address more quickly.

A first responder program through the Cumberland County Fire Department launched earlier this year. The city of Crossville has a long-established first responder program through the Crossville Fire Department. The county program helps get emergency treatment on scene as quickly as possible, such as in the case of a cardiac emergency. The first responder can provide limited care until an ambulance arrives. 

John Byers, a resident of Fairfield Glade, has been critical of the county’s EMS response times, an issue he says impacts the entire county.

“The data clearly shows Crab Orchard, Pleasant Hill, Tansi and Plateau incident response times are significantly longer (exceed) than Fairfield’s. From this report, one might assume the lengthy CCEMS response times (that exceed national norms) are isolated to Fairfield — they are not,” he wrote in a response, which can be read in its entirety on Page 2 of this edition.

The CTAS report found 65.2% of priority 1 or 2 calls — with priority 1 the most severe emergencies — were on the scene within 10 minutes. Of the 11,244 calls in 2018, CTAS found EMS arrived within 10 minutes or less 59% of the time.

Byers contends residents are concerned with the total response time. The CTAS study looked at the time for response from the time EMS is dispatched to the time they arrive on time. 

“Cumberland County residents deserve a ‘world class’ EMS services,” he wrote.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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