Increase Protection Of Our 911 System

1. Adopt and fully implement the Athens-Clarke County Police Department recommendation (April 2019) to take over all 911 dispatching, including EMS.

Rationale – In the current system, when you call 911 you have to tell your emergency twice. Once to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) dispatcher where you are placed on hold and patched over to a private ambulance company. Remarkably, you then have to tell your emergency again. Speaking in favor of the ACCPD recommendation, Commissioner Mike Hamby said, “If I’m having difficulty breathing, I don’t want to have to tell my emergency twice. The second time I may not be breathing.” Bottom line: This ACCPD recommended improvement will increase transparency, enhance accountability, and save lives.

2. Keep taxpayer-subsidized 911 ambulances in their state-mandated coverage zones and stop using them to transport stable patients home from the hospital.

Rationale – When you pull a 911 ambulance out of its state mandated coverage zone to transport somebody home from the hospital (who doesn’t need 911), it’s not available to respond to what could be a time sensitive, life threatening emergency. Sometimes it’s unavailable for hours at a time. There are multiple non-emergency transport companies that can provide that service to our community. Bottom line: If ambulances have to come from further away to assist critically ill or injured citizens, the community is at greater risk.

3. Increase transparency for the 911 system.

Rationale – For-profit, public safety needs at least as much transparency as county or city based public safety, not less. The out-of-state private equity firm that owns our ambulance service believes they are not subject to state open meeting and open record laws, as our public EMS services are. We humbly disagree. Bottom line: “Oversight” Committee Meetings should be announced and open to the public. Raw response time data should be available to the public.

4. Upgrade our first fire department response from Basic Life Support (EMT) to Advanced Life Support (Paramedic).

Rationale – This would get many more life-saving medicines and procedures closer to patients in their time of greatest need. Bottom line – Fire stations are dispersed evenly throughout the county and their units stay in their zones. They could get these lifesaving medicines and procedures to critically ill or injured patients quicker than National EMS – at times 15-20 minutes quicker.

WhenEverySecondCounts.Org – Founder, Sam Rafal –   

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