EMS council seeks funding to add EMTs, ambulance drivers
CHESTERTOWN — The Kent County Emergency Medical Services Council has requested county funding for three new emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers and to provide an additional 24/ 7 paramedic coverage for the county.
The request was delivered to the Kent County Commissioners Tuesday night by EMS Council members Bob Coleman, Andrea Edwards, Adam Brown, Ethel Duhamell and Allan Schauber. A large group of EMS personnel filled the meeting room in support of the request.
Coleman said both items in the request were identified in the 2004 analysis of the county’s EMS strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and restated in the 2014- 2016 SWOT analysis. He said the EMT drivers would be best placed in Betterton, Galena and Rock Hall, to allow quick coverage of emergencies in those areas of the county. In an open letter to the commissioners, he said the additional personnel would allow an ambulance from those locations to be on the road within eight minutes of a call.
Coverage by volunteer ambulance drivers is becoming increasingly difficult to provide, Coleman said. The aging of the county’s population both increases the number of calls and reduces the pool of potential volunteers. He said changes in the Chestertown hospital sometimes require taking a patient to Easton, Annapolis or other hospitals, leaving the county short of trained EMS personnel for several hours.
Coleman said the size of Kent County makes it difficult to cover with two paramedics, especially in incidents like a motor vehicle call that usually requires two on the scene. If a motor vehicle call is in a remote part of the county, Chestertown, which is the busiest part of the county, could be left without a paramedic for an extended period if only two are available.
Brown said the level of training for volunteer EMS workers is demanding. Only 25 percent of those who enlist in training are able to complete it, he said.
Edwards said the equipment at several firehouses in the county also needs upgrading. She said Rock Hall is still using one 20- yearold piece of equipment. She said the demand for coverage at community events like triathlons or the Tea Party Festival puts a further strain on the resources of emergency services.
Duhamell said the volunteer pool is stretched very thin, especially in Rock Hall and Galena, which are at the far ends of the county. She said Galena often has only one or two volunteers available to respond. “I don’t think people realize the physical toll it takes,” she said.
Schauber said that for a person in pain who is waiting for medical help, 20 or 30 minutes can seem like an eternity.
Commission President William Pickrum said that Kent is a rural county with limited resources. He said the commissioners would put the requests at the top of their list for funding.
“You’ve made a strong case, and we’re listening,” said Commissioner Ron Fithian.
Also at the meeting, Emergency Services workers Krista Williams, Brandon Dixon and Logan Quinn were recognized by the commissioners for their work during a shooting incident in Chester Harbor Dec. 29, in which a Queen Anne’s County sheriff’s deputy was shot. The certificates stated the commissioners’ gratitude for the workers “steadfast service and expeditious efforts” during the incident.