National EMS response times better than goal

CONYERS -- Emergency response times for National EMS remain under the contracted goal for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening calls, Rockdale County Commissioners were told Tuesday.

Benny Atkins, CEO for National EMS, gave commissioners an update on the operation of the service at the county's regular meeting. National EMS contracts with the county to provide emergency response and ambulance service within the county on an annual basis.

Atkins said response times for Priority I -- or life-threatening -- calls averaged less than 8 minutes every month in 2012. The contracted response time is at least 90 percent of all calls within 9 minutes 59 seconds. When Priority II -- or non-life-threatening calls -- were included in the average, response times were still less than 9 minutes 59 seconds.

Atkins also said that National EMS made several improvements to equipment and staffing in 2012 including:

-- Implemented field training officer positions who work with new paramedics in the field before they go out on their own;

-- Achieved 97 percent approval rating on patient surveys;

-- Installed automatic vehicle location systems on all ambulances, which allows dispatchers to know where vehicles are at all times and streamline dispatching when appropriate;

-- Implemented a Hands Only CPR program;

-- Installed drive cams in all ambulances;

-- Purchased three new ambulances; and

-- Purchased new stretchers for all ambulances.

According to information provided to commissioners by Atkins, National EMS responded to 8,962 calls dispatched through 911 in Rockdale County in 2012. Of those calls, 4 p.m. was the busiest time with 575 calls. Mondays and Fridays were the busiest days of the week, with 1,335 calls dispatched on Mondays and 1,329 on Fridays. Patients age 65 and older were the most commonly transported. And the vast majority of patients were transported to Rockdale Medical Center at 5,516, followed by Newton Medical Center at slightly more than 2,400, and trauma and children's facilities in Atlanta.

Atkins said in 2013 plans for National EMS call for a re-accreditation on-site visit in February, an update to trauma equipment on all ambulances, continued focus on patient outcomes and areas to improve community health, promotion of a Hands Only CPR campaign to train community residents and purchase of new ambulances to maintain the fleet.

National EMS contracts annually with the county for emergency response and ambulance services. The contract calls for the county to pay $449,000 annually, plus an annual fuel allowance of $35,000. The contract amount was the same in 2011.

In addition to the county contract, National EMS receives its primary source of compensation from fees and charges for ambulance services.