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Public Safety recommends county share new EMS cost

Public Safety Committee members voted to recommend sharing the cost of new technology for EMS during their May 13 meeting.
Dan Wheeley, executive director of the Washington County-Johnson City EMS, said Commission Chair Greg Matherly and Mayor Dan Eldridge asked him to bring the request to Public Safety for consideration.
“We’re not asking for an increase in funding for operations other than the $80,870 for the Medical Death Investigations responsibilities,” Wheeley said.
Rather, EMS is requesting an allocation from the county and city of $112,743 each for a one-time capital purchase to implement Automatic Vehicle Location, SafetyNet Mobile and Intrinsic Informer technology in the ambulances and with Washington County 911 dispatch.
The AVL technology will allow 911 dispatchers to track EMS vehicles in real time and dispatch the closest vehicle on emergency calls. The current system dispatches units based on assigned zones, which works fairly well for the fire service, but EMS units transporting patients to the hospitals are out of their assigned coverage zones a large percentage of the time.
“An ambulance dispatched from a zone often passes one on the way back,” Wheeley said. The AVL dispatching will increase efficiency and reduce response times.
SafetyNet Mobile allows for dispatch information to be sent to the individual units in real time including mapping capabilities, which will show the EMS crews the closest route to the incident from their current location. The SafetyNet Mobile also allows EMS crews to record their times in real time from their unit, decreasing the human error factor that exists when 911 has to do this via radio. This technology is another means of increasing efficiency at both EMS and 911 and reducing response times.
SafetyNet Informer is the reporting software package, which allows for reports to be generated out of the computer-aided dispatch system. The current CAD system serves as a database, but there is no real way to generate accurate reports out of the data. The SafetyNet Informer proposal includes five users, which would allow each public safety agency as well as 911 to have access to this reporting system.
The requested funds will cover the costs of upgrading 911’s CAD system to do AVL dispatching and SafetyNet Mobile, as well as purchase the hardware, computers and software for the EMS vehicles.
“We will have Wi-Fi hot spots in the trucks, and buying laptops to use in the units will free up radio time,” Wheeley said.
Public Safety Committee members were assured the use of different technology would only improve the emergency medical services’ contributions to the citizens they serve.
“We’re getting onboard with something that has been around for a while,” Wheeley said. “It will help us get more information out there in the field.”
Commissioner Pete Speropulos made a motion to recommend the commission allocate the funds to share the purchase of the new technology for EMS. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Mike Ford and passed with unanimous approval.