SC ambulance service looks to add 3rd rig, ramp up recruitment efforts with EMT academy

Medshore Ambulance officials are working to train and add additional providers, as well as coordinate with area medical centers for transport rigs to avoid a tax increase for residents

Dionne Gleaton
The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.

BAMBERG COUNTY, S.C. — Medshore Ambulance officials discussed ways they're working to improve Bamberg County's ambulance service and their efforts to add another truck during a virtual June 7 meeting.

Officials with the Anderson-based company also met with the county's emergency services committee on May 12.

Medshore Ambulance officials discussed ways they're working to improve Bamberg County's ambulance service and their efforts to add another truck during a virtual June 7 meeting.
Medshore Ambulance officials discussed ways they're working to improve Bamberg County's ambulance service and their efforts to add another truck during a virtual June 7 meeting. (Photo/Medshore Ambulance Service)

The nonprofit Bamberg Rescue Squad Inc. handled EMS calls in the county until Oct. 1, 2019, when the county switched to Medshore.

"We were able to tackle a lot of the communication piece and mapping that we had, vehicle locators. We were able to complete all those tasks and projects that we were working on with the local IT team there in Bamberg and even in Barnwell County with their mapping system. So everything has been good so far with those small little projects with the communication pieces," Medshore General Manager Josh Shore said.

Shore said the company is working with the Regional Medical Center on a contract to potentially bring on a third truck. He said he'd would report to the emergency services committee as they move forward in the process.

"So what we want to try to do is ... try and partner with the hospital so we don't have to have a tax increase to the taxpayers in Bamberg County. Allowing us to get transports with the hospital will allow us to offset that type of cost to the county. So that is still in progress.

"We're working with BBEMC ( Bamberg-Barnwell Emergency Medical Center) and the county of Bamberg to really try and get that third truck in the county," Shore said.

He said a "full-blown crisis" has developed in the recruitment of emergency medical technicians and paramedics, making the development of an EMT academy at Denmark Technical College to produce more EMTs even more important.

"We're about to kick that off later on this month. ... We've already completed six EMT academies across the state so far," Shore said.

Medshore Ambulance Services Capt. Phil Clarke, who serves as operations manager for Bamberg and Barnwell counties, said the EMT academy's first class is set to start on June 21.

"The school has lined up the instructors, the books have been ordered, they've ordered the supplies, they've got the classrooms set. Our goal is to finish the class by the end of August," Clarke said.

Clarke said he is excited about the program, which drew more than 54 applicants. The applications are being reviewed.

"They will become Medshore employees. They will get paid for 40 hours a week. Twenty-four hours of that is going to be in the classroom getting their EMT skills. This is an accelerated program. Normally the EMT course only runs two nights a week, four hours each night. So we're doing is running it eight hours a day, three days a week," Clarke said.

He continued, "I'm hoping this is going to be the first of many classes. ... There's a lot of different programs that we hope to get underway within the next several months, with the goal of filling the vacancies that we have and allowing us to expand our operations to be able to put more ambulances on the road if need be."

Clarke said, "One of the important things is the tuition and all is 100 percent free. It's paid through the South Carolina apprenticeship program. Their books and their testing and all of that is provided to them at no charge."

In the meantime, Shore said information technology improvements have been made to the ambulance service system to ensure that, for example, wrong addresses will not be popping up on GPS systems during emergency calls.

"We actually helped spearhead Barnwell and Bamberg county E-911 directors to meet on a quarterly basis. Obviously they can pick up the phone and call us at any time, but we've having some interagency meetings and dialogues with both COM centers. If they have problems, they know who to reach out to," Shore said.

Clarke said the ZOLL Online data management system has been implemented.

"There's been a couple of problems and whenever they have problems, they call me. I immediately call our IT folks for them to reset the program so that they can see all the units not only in Bamberg, but also in Barnwell County," he said.

Shore said, "We're actually moving to Mobilis. It's a better GPS/AVL system. Once we get it installed in our units, both E-911 piece apps will have that access. We took your GPS mapping in Bamberg County and Barnwell County and put it in our ZOLL CAD. So now we have your updated mapping systems from the county."

Clarke added, "The ambulances in Bamberg are programmed with the Bamberg fire radio frequency. They're supposed to be leaving those radios on so when the fire department gets on the scene, they can communicate directly with an ambulance and not have to go through the dispatch center.

"That's just something that I need to stay on and make sure that they're doing that and that the radios are programmed properly."

Clarke said that providing mutual aid to other counties in need of an ambulance is also "a very common procedure."

"We get requests all the time from Orangeburg County for assistance. They're hurting really bad," he said.

Clarke continued, "So we get requests from Orangeburg, we've gotten requests out of Allendale. So it's not uncommon. What we're doing with Bamberg and Barnwell units is utilizing those different operations as mutual aid.

"It's not just the Denmark truck that's moving. We've sent the Blackville truck when the Denmark truck has been out on calls and another call has come in. ... We're going to send the closest ambulance to the call."

In other business, Bamberg County Recreation Committee Chairman Curtis Tyler Jr. presented recreation grants totaling $5,709.50 for the following six programs: Bamberg County First Steps, $1,859.50; Bamberg County 4-H (ages 5-18), $550; Denmark Cares/Kamp Future (ages 7-8), $600; Denmark Cares/Kamp Future (ages 9-10), $600; Denmark Cares/Kamp Future (ages 11-12), $600 and Bamberg Pony League (ages 13-14), $1,500.

Council approved the grant awards, but also approved extending the application deadline by a week to allow the county recreation committee time to review other applications.

There is $14,000 allocated within the county budget for the recreation program. With the six program grants already awarded, the remaining balance is $8,290.50.


(c)2021 The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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