EMS quick-response vehicle receives great reviews

A pilot program allowed Davidson County EMS to add the QRV to their fleet

By Darrick Ignasiak
The Dispatch

DENTON, N.C. — Davidson County EMS officials are praising the agency's new quick-response vehicle for southern Davidson County four months into a pilot program.

“QR4” — a 2016 Ford Explorer — became operational Sept. 20 from the EMS base on West Peacock Avenue in Denton. The vehicle operates from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week, meaning the EMS base in Denton has an additional vehicle to respond to calls. Also out of the same EMS base is an ambulance with two paramedics dispatched to calls.

“It's been great,” Larry James, director of Davidson County Emergency Services, said, referring to the program. “There have definitely been some patients who have benefited from getting a paramedic to them quicker than they would have without that truck.”

The Davidson County Board of Commissioners gave unanimous approval this past year to add the paramedic to serve the southern end of the county. Commissioners allocated $50,000 to fund the salary for the additional paramedic, and Davidson County EMS utilized $30,000 in performance-based budget funds to purchase the new vehicle.

The pilot program runs until June 30 of this year. The topic of QR4 is expected to be discussed at the Davidson County commissioners' retreat next month.

James said from the time the pilot program started through Dec. 31, 2015, there were 223 calls on which QR4 went. He said the call volume for the quick-response vehicle shows there was a need for some additional resources in the southern part of the county.

“By the commissioners approving this pilot project, I believe that we have helped address that need,” James said. “Out of those 223 calls, 77 of those calls were when the Denton ambulance was out, where (QR4) made a great impact because the average response time for (QR4) within the Denton area is 5 minutes. Within the whole southern part of the county, (QR4 is) responding in just over 7 minutes.

“When the Denton (ambulance) is out, for another ambulance to come down here, the average response time into Denton for another ambulance is 15 minutes. That puts the (QR4) paramedic there an average of 10 minutes quicker … than the next ambulance in.”

Once on the scene, the QR4 paramedic starts assessment of the patient. The vehicle is not used to transport patients, James said.

“They get vital signs,” he said. “They put the cardiac monitor on. They start IVs. They will push medications. … So when the ambulance gets there … the stuff that the ambulance (paramedics) would normally do is done. The paramedics can then have a quicker time loading the patient and transporting.”

QR4 serves Denton, Healing Springs, South Davidson, the Badin area in Davidson County and Silver Valley. James said QR4 has saved lives.

Brad Varner has been a paramedic with Davidson County EMS almost three years now.

"It will get up to speed a lot quicker,” Varner said, referring to QR4. “It's a smaller, more agile vehicle. Even if you are cutting 1-2 minutes off your time, from point A to B over (an ambulance) getting to point A to point B, those 1-2 minutes can make all the difference in the world.”

Varner said he was recently assigned to an ambulance from Thomasville. While the Denton ambulance was out on a call, his ambulance responded to southern Davidson County. QR4 was available and made it to the scene.

“We were coming from Thomasville,” Varner recalled. “That was 20-25 minutes to get down here. That was actually a lady who had some severe breathing issues, and I honestly don't think without QR4 being here she would have survived.”

Carrie Perry, a paramedic with Davidson County EMS, also has manned QR4. She said the vehicle drives well.

Perry said the vehicle is an asset to the county. She said people often walk into the Denton EMS base while the ambulance is out on a call. When the need arises, having the QR4 paramedic available provides the capability of giving service to walk-ins who are in distress.

Denton Mayor Larry Ward thanked Davidson County commissioners for providing the additional service to his town's residents and others in surrounding communities. He said several citizens have expressed their gratitude.

“It was the right thing at the right time,” Ward said.

(c)2016 The Dispatch

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