New County-owned EMS begins operation in 2016
By Nadine Swift, Director
Switzerland County Emergency Response
Like a whirlwind in late 2015, Switzerland County Commissioners, Steve Lyons, Mark Lohide and Josh South, addressed concerns, growth and the future of EMS in the county by choosing to begin the first County owned EMS service. With a population of over 10,000 residents plus visitors and workers, EMS and the County Public Safety Services can not to be taken lightly.
Meetings began on January 12th, held with volunteers from each township in the county helping to develop a new EMS service. Those coming to the first meeting were Mark Lohide, Glenn Scott, Nathan Hughes, John Stafford, Jeremy Harsin, Jeff Darling, Leon Walker, Lawrence Monjar, Jerry Monjar, Ken Byars, Barbara Bowling, Stacey Mathews, Josh South, Thomas Moore, Carol Ann Sublett, Dawn Ossman, Renda Mills, Connie Adams, Terri Grove, Bobby Gabbard and Zachary Brogan. They formed committees for every aspect of the service and excitement grew as those from around the county were making new bonds of commitment with each other to provide an excellent service for all people in the county.
Jefferson County neighbors from Kings’ Daughters’ Hospital in Madison were generous to provide 911 services through KDH EMS from midnight on January 1st to 8 am on April 15th. The local Switzerland County fire departments purchased squads and outfitted them to handle back up details and multiple patient calls, working with KDH EMS.
Sheriff Nathan Hughes and his staff from the Sheriff’s Office, the Jail, and the Dispatch Center generously offered quarters to KDH EMS while they were working in the county, which continued on to the new county service until they had a permanent home of their own.
January brought announcements of seeking a Director and shortly after, began the process of obtaining additional ambulances, a Medical Director, Staff, equipment and the never-ending piles of paperwork that accompany putting together an entity in Public Safety.
February experienced a rare but fun event, having the county residents send suggestions to the Commissioners for a name for the County Service. There were about 12 suggestions. It was a hard decision, but a vote by the original committee was held and the name became ‘Switzerland County Emergency Response’ (SCER). After finding a name, a logo was made, squads were lettered, uniforms were ordered, paperwork and contracts were made with entities. Development of the system moved very quickly after a name and staff were obtained.
Mike Busch and Tom Moore accommodated a temporary office for the Director in the EMA area of the TEC Building and the Florence Fire Station housed the backup squad. Ken Byars shared his Township Trustee office for the deliveries and paperwork for supplies as they arrived.
On February 27th applicants were interviewed, tested for skill and knowledge competency and hired for the service. By 8 p.m. on February 27th, Switzerland County had employees for its EMS. Medical Director, Dr. Paul Cronen, the Surgeon from Kings’ Daughters’ Hospital, Director Nadine Swift, Full Time Paramedics Ryan Everman, Zachary Brogan, Full time EMT-Advanced Glenn Scott and Terri Grove and Full time EMT Eric Tuemler. Part time staff included Medics: Renda Mills, Luke Lamar, Scott Stevens and Daniel Myers; EMTs: Jeff Darling, Scott Reed, Josh Claybourn, Josh Lathery; and PRN EMTs: Colin English, Cody McNeely and Whitney Williams. Each of these applicants holds additional talents in other areas such as operations, teaching, maintenance, communications, IT, etcetera and have been assigned to be responsible for a part of the service.
When SCER began their service, the squads from Moorefield and East Enterprise Fire Departments were purchased as part of the county run service and the roster of the service grew again to include the EMTs, First Responders and Drivers from those departments and also staff from Posey Fire Department. These vital EMS personnel work from the county stations pulling the squads and caring for additional patients.
Over the past eight months of service SCER lost two part time EMTs to full time jobs outside of the county. EMT-Advanced Glenn Scott completed Paramedic Class and is now functioning as a Paramedic on the squad replacing the position of Ryan Everman who has dropped to part time with SCER as he has been hired as a flight medic with a local air medical company. EMT Eric Tuemler and EMT Whitney Williams are currently in Paramedic School and First Responders Gary Fisher and William Bruns from Posey Fire Department, and Josh Abdon and Jason Chandler from East Enterprise are all in EMT school held at Ohio County EMS.
It is exciting to see the staff developing, but we need more help to assure that all of our communities are attended during their medical illnesses and traumatic injuries.
There are so many aspects of Emergency Services. Many of these have been addressed in the past 8 months with help from so many people, organizations and foundations. Grants were awarded by the Community Foundation of Switzerland County, the Vevay-Switzerland County Foundation, Walmart and Belterra. These grants provided education equipment for community CPR classes, squad chains for inclement weather travel and a Lucas Machine that does excellent CPR on cardiac arrest patients. SCER is very grateful to these companies and foundations for remembering this service and the patients with their generosity.
As the department prepared to go on the road, a dedication was planned and held 2 days prior to beginning to the first day of service. It was held with a standing room audience in the big rooms at the TEC Building. Introductions were made of the staff, comments from the audience, reading of the EMT Oath and prayers for the patients, staff, finances and stability of the very needed service.
Knowing that new services take on a few bumps, contact was made to SCER by Jefferson, Gallatin, Ripley and Ohio Counties EMS divisions to offer assistance along the way. True appreciation for their help and for good neighbors.
A long search was made for quarters for SCER. Many buildings were considered but none were able to accommodate the required equipment of the Emergency Medical Service. In the late fall, a purchase was made of 809 East Main Street, the building that had housed the previous EMS service. The building was remodeled with great assistance from Bruce Williams, Bert Allen, Wesley Poling and the work crews from the Switzerland County Jail. A roof and new siding was placed by Chris Bolton and his company for a very reduced price. The building is one of the nicest EMS buildings in the area, and accommodates all of the needs of EMS to date. Effective January, 2017 the Coroner office is located in the building also.
Since April, run volume has been growing. SCER ended 2016 with 702 patients, and others have been cared prior to April by the KDH EMS and also by the fire department ambulances. A rough estimation of patients requiring emergency medical services for 2016 is 1,000 patients.
Continuous development is planned for SCER. Education opportunities for staff in areas of medical knowledge, skill perfection, community education and training with local entities with whom SCER works side by side: Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department, Dispatch, the Jail, Switzerland County Health Department, Swiss Villa Living Center, Vevay Police Department, the Switzerland County School Resource Officer, the County Fire Departments and First Responders. Hopefully, 2017 will see a CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) trained and available for Switzerland County which will give a great deal of trained assistance should the county suffer from a natural environmental emergency or a call for general help such as a child lost in the woods.
Individual development being pursued on behalf of SCER includes Leadership education at the National Fire Academy in Emmetsburg, Maryland and courses from FEMA, and EMS Instructor courses.
Much development has taken place in the past 12 months and much is in progress. In January, the Medical Director will change to the leadership of Dr. Mark Charpentier, who currently receives many SCER patients In the Emergency Department at Kings’ Daughters’ Hospital. A huge debt of gratitude to Ms. Carol Lozier, CEO of Kings’ Daughters’ Hospital and Dr. Paul Cronen for their quick response to assure that the patients in Switzerland County always had excellent pre-hospital care, and their assistance in assuring that the medical leadership is steady for the service during this transfer of medical direction.
SCER appreciates the support, prayers and donations from the people in the county. The Switzerland County Commissioners have been an outstanding professional group to guide and give leadership during the building of this county run service and SCER appreciates each of them. Although some people over the year have commented that there has been too much time and money spent on this service, the service was replaced in less than one year with reasonable expenses for the amenities that it provides and begins its second year well on its way to adding additional services for the people in Switzerland County and it is doing it debt free. The service truly earned its motto:
Community Owned – Community Operated –