In January, members of Eutawville Town Council and citizens of Eutawville came to Orangeburg County Council with concerns about the ability of EMS to serve the eastern areas in a county with the state’s second largest land area.
Eutawville Councilwoman Stephanie Adkins, who serves as the town’s police, fire, emergency services commissioner, spoke before council to discuss delays in EMS response and other issues regarding the county's emergency services.
Adkins along with other concerned citizens signed a petition to the county council regarding the issues, and she told council of increasing complaints about response times.
“We have contacted EMS before about the situation. We have also had a meeting. We had a concerned citizens meeting in August with the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office about our concerns with things that were going on, response times. We were told at that time that funding was an issue,” Adkins said.
Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young addressed the concerns, telling the Eutawville contingent that steps are being taken to improve response time. One involved moving an ambulance closer to Eutawville. The other key issue – retaining emergency medical technicians -- is more complex.
“It’s hard for us to recruit and keep individuals because of the neighboring counties and what they’re paying,” Young said. “You basically get paid more for less work in the other counties than you do with 1,100 square miles that you have to deal with in our county.”
He said salary upgrades will help, a sentiment echoed in February when EMS Director Danny Rivers came before council. He said the county at that time had nine open paramedic positions, four EMT positions and one dispatch position unfilled.
According to state recommendations, the county should have nine ambulances, Rivers said. It has seven.
“They use that number because they say anybody in the state, if you call 911, an ambulance should be to you in eight minutes. That’s their projection. Right now we're at about 11 minutes,” Rivers said.
As much as improvement is as urgent as any and every person’s emergency, there is a role that people can play to help the situation in a county that Rivers said has seen big increases in the number of calls for ambulances.
Frivolous calls for EMS are too frequent throughout the county, Rivers said.
Many calls do not warrant the services of an ambulance and take away from calls and situations that may be more serious, Rivers said. “Our goal is to try to educate (on) when they need to call us.”
We’ll join the education cause, offering guidelines from webmd.com on seven cases for which an ambulance should NOT be called:
• Woman going into the early stages of labor.
• Man with chronic back pain who has run out of painkillers.
• Drunk man being sick (but not unconscious).
• 3-year-old with a piece of Lego stuck in his nose.
• Single episode of blood in the urine.
• Toddler with a bruise on his head.
• Knife cut on the palm of the hand that is not bleeding heavily.