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EMS update to improve response time


County to unveil new technology in September



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July 24, 2013 - The Genesee County 9-1-1 Center and Genesee County Medical Control Authority recently announced that the move to direct dispatching of emergency medical services (EMS) in the county will begin on Sept 9. On that date, all EMS calls will be dispatched directly to the closest, most appropriate ambulance or other EMS vehicle.

The change could have a significant impact on medical response time to Atlas Township.

Dispatchers will send EMS units based upon automatic vehicle locator, or AVL, technology that is placed in every unit and allows the 9-1-1 center's computers to determine the closest unit to the request for emergency medical care. The dispatcher will then communicate directly via radio with that EMS crew and send detailed information about the call to a computer in the vehicle.

"This new system will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes our dispatchers to get an with the new system is the EMS does not have to be at a base to receive the call. Rather, we know via AVL where the EMS is and send the closest one. Pulling together nine private ambulance companies into a single system is no small feat. There have been significant hurdles that had to be overcome, but overall we have had good cooperation from everyone involved."

Fayling added that ambulance companies that compete for business can roam or be stationed in areas such as Atlas Township where no other EMS is located to receive calls.

Under the current process, 9-1-1 does not know where all of the EMS units are at any given time. When a request for help comes in, the 9-1-1 dispatcher is given the closest ambulance base to the call, then the dispatcher calls the private company to see if an ambulance is available at the location. If not, they have to repeat the process for the next closest ambulance company's base.

The process on average takes ninety seconds to two minutes, and there have been instances where it has taken much longer. According to Director Fayling, with this change in dispatching it will be virtually instantaneous.

Groveland Township Fire Chief Steve McGee said the new system is costly, but will improve patient care.

"I applaud the new program, what they are doing makes a lot of sense," he said. "It's simple when one EMS unit moves out of an area, another one could move in. The downside is the AVL is very expensive to get started. Our software at Groveland needs to be upgraded and the license to operate is very costly. However, we've partnered with Swartz Ambulance Service located in Grand Blanc and can purchase a license from them to operate—we hope to be active by Aug. 12 so everything will be up and going by September."

Groveland Township currently has six EMS trucks in operation. Calls to Atlas Township will come from the Grange Hall Road Fire Station One. The focus will be north on M-15 to Atlas Township, added McGee.

"Overall, it's a great idea and while it's more money up-front in the long run, that will be recouped through the calls," he said.

The proposed change was first announced by 9-1-1 in 2010 based upon a continuing effort to improve service. Since that time, 9-1-1 and the Medical Control Authority have been working through numerous technical, policy, financial, and political issues to get the system online. The new system requires each private ambulance company's existing computer, dispatching, and communication systems to be integrated with 9-1-1.

Atlas Township officials have considered an EMS stationed in the community.

In December 2012 representatives from Regional Emergency Medical Services (REMS) attended the Atlas Township meeting to discuss locating a facility in the community. REMS is a joint-venture partnership between Flint-based hospital McLaren Health System, and Southfield-based Community EMS, Inc (CEMS), a non-profit ambulance service. After first opening in January 1996, REMS serves Lansing, Fenton, Flint, Flushing, along with Genesee and Mundy townships. The company employs about 300 with 75 vehicles.

However, even after township official offered to provide use of the south bay in the township garage to house the ambulance and develop some kind of base or post in the township, the plan was dumped due to a lack of projected 9-1-1 calls to be profitable.

Atlas Township Fire Chief Fred Forys is optimistic regarding the upgrade to the Genesee EMS.

"It's a very positive change," said Forys. "It will be a great system for keeping track of where the EMS are at all times. However, it's still a matter of dollars and cents—if they can make money stationed in the township area then it will help in response time. It's a matter of justification of manpower—time will tell."

ambulance rolling to a person who needs help," said Lloyd Fayling, director of Genesee County 9-1-1.

"Instead of calling an ambulance company's dispatcher to see if they have a crew sitting in a base, we will be able to immediately and directly send an ambulance that is already on the road to a call."

In 1978 the Goodrich area had a volunteer ambulance authority when the Lions formed the service and built the clubhouse on M-15 as a base for the duties. The authority had 67 volunteers on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The first month had 24 runs with the ambulance and provided the community with ambulance service until 1997. Since then the Atlas Township area has been without an EMS.

"Groveland Township will be a part of the system, as is Grand Blanc and Davison all around the perimeter of Atlas Township," said Fayling. "The key

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