911 Board Hears from Abbott EMS


Published on July 11 2017 4:41 pm
Last Updated on July 12 2017 7:53 am
Written by Greg Sapp

Abbott EMS is working with local 911 officials to make for a smooth transition once Abbott becomes the primary ambulance service provider in Effingham County, but there is still some work ahead.

Abbott representatives were in attendance at the monthly 911 board meeting Tuesday. Abbott's Regional Director Mark Corley said his headquarters in St. Louis would dispatch ambulance rigs when calls occur in Effingham County. 911 System Administrator Jodi Moomaw, however, would rather do the dispatching so they would know a rig is rolling as soon as they receive the call. Corley said he would have the rigs radio the PSAPs as soon as they are dispatched, but Moomaw is hopeful of maintaining local dispatching of the rigs. 

What was established is that memoranda of understanding are needed to put the guidelines in place. One would cover how the operation will work once Abbott is the primary service in the county, and another would cover how things are to work between 911, Abbott and Effingham City-County Ambulance during the transition period. Abbott is working toward a September 1 goal of becoming the primary ambulance service provider.

Another key is the means of communicating between the agencies. Abbott is implementing STARCOM as the primary communications tool. As it now stands, STARCOM will be available via portables in each rig and will be available in their dispatch center, and the existing high band frequency will be utilized as the backup frequency. Provision is also being made for area fire protection districts, which don't have STARCOM capability.

Another question is who would be the backup ambulance service if Abbott were not available. Corley said they have spoken with some services in the area, although nothing is finalized.

To this point, Abbott has handled some transfers in the county, but no emergency calls. Abbott's Operations Manager in Illinois, Brian Gerth, said the understanding is that if City-County Ambulance is down to one rig available, Abbott is to be notified. Gerth said, so far, they have not been notified by City-County of that occurring.

Abbott is now stationed at the University of Illinois Extension Center in Effingham, but they plan to secure a permanent location. Gerth said there are seven rigs here, five primary and two reserve. He said as they monitor where rigs are most needed, decisions will be made as to where they should be located. At this point, there will be rigs located in Effingham and Altamont.

In other business at Tuesday's 911 Board meeting, Moomaw reported that legislation establishing fees for 911 service statewide is in place, although she said there are rumors the governor is looking at doing an all-funds sweep of revenue to help deal with the state's massive debt load. She said that's counterproductive, since the State passed legislation raising the level of revenue collected to help qualify for Federal grant dollars. Without the state funds available, they can't apply for Federal dollars.

Moomaw also reported she is setting up three demonstrations of Next Generation 911 systems in August as part of the process of deciding on a new county phone system that will employ Next Gen technology. The goal is to select a new system early in 2018. The 911 Equipment Committee is to next meet the morning of July 24.