A County Technical Assistance Service study of Cumberland County EMS responses to emergency calls recommends the addition of one ambulance Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Fairfield Glade area once funds become available.

“Cumberland County has unique challenges to provide ambulance service coverage in a cost‐effective manner. The area’s road network, geographic features, and large areas of rural population do make it difficult to provide a consistent response time to the entire county. The EMS department should continue to rotate/move up trucks to help cover areas vacant due to the assigned ambulance being committed on a response or unavailable.

This can be accomplished by converting the basic life support (BLS) ambulance to an advanced life support (ALS) ambulance and backfilling the Fairfield Glade station while the Fairfield Glade ambulance is on a call. This truck can be used to cover other areas as needed based on system demand,” the CTAS report states.

Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster released the results of the EMS response times study performed by CTAS over the weekend and on the county website.

Foster requested the study in February.

The data used for the study came from emergency calls placed in 2018.

The study confirms the two highest-demand emergency calling areas in the county are the Crossville downtown area and Fairfield Glade. For analysis, response times in minute range categories were estimated for all calls and for each priority category.

“For all 11,244 incidents, approximately 59% were on scene in 10 minutes or less, with over one-fourth (26%) in five minutes or less. Calls are coded with a Priority of 1 to 3 with Priority 1 being the most severe. When only Priority 1 or 2 calls are considered 65.2% of calls are on the scene within 10 minutes. Response time intervals are charted for Priority 1 and Priority 2 separately, although distribution among time intervals is nearly identical,” the study states.

The study also concludes the following:

•The largest number of calls originate from the main station downtown.

•The second-largest number of calls originate from the Fairfield Glade station.

•Two thirds of incidents in the data were logged between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., with the highest rate occurring between 2 and 3 p.m.

•Tuesday and Friday were nearly equal as days having the highest-number of incidents. The fewest number of incidents occurred on Sundays.

•Incidents were coded with a priority from 1 to 3, with 1 being the most severe. More than half, 51.3%, of the incidents were coded as priority 3, with 18.7% as priority 2, and 30% as priority 1.

•A heat map of priority 1 incidents with a dispatch to scene time of 10 minutes or more is presented in the study. The highest density of these incidents is near the Fairfield Glade station.

•A hot spot analysis of priority 1 and priority 2 incidents indicate a hot spot in Fairfield Glade.

•Approximately 23.4% of calls are overlapping – received during the same hour as another call is received. More of these overlapping incidents occur at the main station than any other. If the Cumberland Medical Center address is excluded from the count, the next greatest number of overlapping incidents occurs in the Fairfield Glade.

In a column written on the county’s website, Foster states, “Statistically speaking, we could pull ambulances from the outlying stations and put them in the more populated urban areas of Crossville, Fairfield Glade, and Tansi. That would improve our statistics as most calls come from the urban areas. But we live in the fourth largest county in the state by land mass at 681 square miles. What happens to those calls in the outlying areas? We know that in those urban areas during 2018, 70% of all calls, excluding transports, had a response time of 10 minutes or less. That is regardless of priority. The E-911 Center does not currently do priority dispatching so that data includes calls with everything from twisted ankles to heart attacks.  We know from the CTAS data review that priority 1 calls county wide are responded to at a quicker rate than priority 3, which is as it should be.”

Foster said several improvements have been made to the ambulance service, including the addition of a BLS ambulance. That addition means that all ALS ambulances are at their station more frequently to respond to calls in their area.

A paging system to the stations improve the time it takes for our EMS personnel to get on the road. As soon as the paging system alerts, personnel can get to their ambulance and receive location information for the call.

New stretchers were also purchased with grant funds and video laryngoscopes were donated for about half of the ambulances, with more to be added this year.

Foster said GPS devices have been ordered and will be added to our ambulances to help our responders find the location of the emergency quicker.

“We are also purchasing software that will help transfer data from the CAD system in the E-911 Department to the EMS software. This will eliminate the possibility of incorrect data entry from the EMS side,” he wrote.

Cumberland County is the only county in the Upper Cumberland to have a ventilator wing in a skilled nursing facility. To help meet the needs of these patients, the state has provided the county two ventilators, and all Cumberland County paramedics are ventilator certified.

A significant development this year is the First Responder program. This is a program overseen by our Volunteer Fire Department that covers the entire county except for the city of Crossville, which has its own First Responder program via the Crossville Fire Department. The county program serves to get emergency treatment on scene a quickly as possible to areas out in the county.

For Foster’s complete response regarding the CTAS study, see page 2 of today’s Crossville Chronicle. A copy of the CTAS study can be found on the county’s website at cumberlandcountytn.gov.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com

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