Here’s hoping that this finds everyone healthy, happy and ready for opportunities that come with another year.
We are coming to the close of the third year that Switzerland County Emergency Response (SCER) has been entrusted with providing care for the residents of the county. It seemed that 2016 brought a whirlwind of action and growth in all aspects with the purchasing of equipment, supplies, hiring of staff, training of new volunteers, remodeling and moving into the EMS facility.
In 2017, we continued to grow with additional vehicles and training and started updating squads for the outlying county communities, bringing together people to help with multiple calls at the same time. We had a change of Medical Directorship from Dr. Paul Cronen of King’s Daughters’ Hospital to Dr. Ed Bartkus from IU Methodist in Indianapolis. Both of these men are amazing and we appreciate them so.
The year 2018 was spent finishing up all of the projects that were started in 2016 and 2017 and moving toward additional growth in the many aspects of public safety beyond making medical calls. We began taking 911 calls on April 15th, 2016 and by the end of the year had 703 calls. In 2017 the volume grew to 1,017 calls; and this year we will see 1,044 calls. This averages to 2.8 calls per day for 2018 and will grow in 2019.
The continued growth mandates additional staff.
We have a Driver’s Program that includes emergency driving classroom and practical application, a first aid and CPR class. Those who have gone through the class have been so very helpful this year in assuring that our squads are pulled and allowing the EMTs/Paramedics to be able to do medical care. In 2017 and 2018 we had additional staff attend Paramedic school, bringing our current staffing certification levels to: 34 staff members involving 6 Drivers, 15 EMTs, 3 Advanced EMTs and 10 Medics.
We try to have a medic on every call, whether responding from the building or back up coming from their homes. This affords the level of care that may be necessary for medically unstable patients, providing stabilization during transport to definitive care. Of the 10 medics on staff, 4 live in the county and 3 live within 30 minutes and can (and have) respond to major incidents.
Outside training has been used to build SCER also.
The full time medics have been able to attend advanced Paramedic training at the University of Cincinnati Medical Campus for Advanced and Difficult Airway situations. Also, management and leadership courses have been taken by several of the staff. One, Eric Tuemler, applied for and was accepted in Emmitsburg, Maryland at the National Fire Academy for a course in Management of Emergency Medical Services. We were fortunate to have Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Pediatric Mobile Intensive Care Unit come to Vevay and spend a Saturday teaching our staff how to care for critical children. Classes on Trauma have also been provided by the Air Methods helicopter crew.
Dr. Bartkus has provided a computer-based education program that is developed at their Level 1 Trauma Center and our staff have been doing multiple hours of training in 2017 and 2018, growing in their personal development — knowledge base and skills.
This past year of 2018 found some tightening of our finances.
The large start up expense is complete, we stayed within our budget and have cut the budget for 2019. The implementation of some programs such as the sheet program have saved thousands of dollars for the county and the service. It would cost about $2,500 to provide sheets for the cots for one year, with many of them being thrown away due to blood borne pathogen protection. By implementation of the sheet donation program, we have increased the number of sheets, towels, washrags, blankets, and quilts to a value of $24,000. Now the program wasn’t totally free, as we did invest in a sewing machine to sew seams on king size sheets that have been cut down to fit the cot. So, if you see a patient laying on a Disney princess sheet, just remember that your neighbors care about you and donated to the service, and your service cares about you and is utilizing alternative supply means to save your tax dollars.
SCER continued to build strong connections in the community for the benefit of providing stronger services to the community.
In 2018 we combined with the YMCA for CPR and First Aid Classes. This will increase the number of teachers in the county to help with the need in the county. We are also working with the TEC staff to assure that we have a perfectly accommodated learning facility for the EMT classes that will start in 2019. There are grants that have been awarded that benefit the SCER patient. EMA has received 2 LUCAS CPR machines at a value of $30,000. Belterra donated one previously, which is located on the primary squad and has been amazingly effective on the physiological demands of a patient in cardiac arrest. The 2 new LUCAS will go to the county squads where staff comes from home and may need the benefit of the machine to help with CPR.
SCER is looking forward to placing an ambulance in the Posey Township Fire House in the next couple of weeks. It will help to reach the east side of the county with those EMTs that live in that area.
Working relationships between the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department and Dispatch grow and we have trained with them for large incident preparation.
Looking forward to 2019 with the forward movement in structure, growth, increased certifications and staffing. The potential for growth in SCER is immeasurable. It is so exciting to be involved in the development and growth of a service that can do so much for its residents. I am grateful to God and to the people in this county for allowing me to serve with your local public safety workers. We are moving in all directions of Emergency Services and moving with strength. This change only happens when many people work together toward the same goal, gaining momentum as they move forward.
Thank you for your time. Have a Happy New Year filled with blessing and safety.