Ambulance Oversight Committee Discusses Status Zero Situations


Published on July 11 2019 4:24 pm
Last Updated on July 11 2019 4:24 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham County Board's Ambulance Oversight Committee discussed Status Zero calls and how they should best be handled.

Status Zero is when the County's ambulance service provider, Abbott EMS, has no ambulance rigs available in the county.

Tina Daniels, who is supervisor of the County's telecommunicators, related about a half dozen occasions over the past month when the county was at Status Zero. Most of the situations were a matter of a few minutes, but a call on June 23 was of particular concern. There was no ambulance unit available for over 40 minutes. 

The situation was due to all ambulance rigs being out on other calls, but backup service from Jasper County was also unavailable, so dispatchers starting checking with other services. Eventually, city police helped a person in a personal vehicle to get to treatment.

Abbott officials said they had five calls at the same time during the event, a situation they termed "highly irregular". An Abbott official said, "There are .004% of calls where we are not available."

Daniels said one issue is how telecommunicators are supposed to handle such a situation. She said, "If we had a heart attack (case), what do we tell our dispatchers to do?"

Committee member Matt Sager said, "My concern is how long we are at Status Zero; what do we do about this?"

There was also discussion about ways to take lift assist calls away from Abbott crews to lessen the number of calls that are not emergency in nature. Abbott is averaging 100 lift assists per month, a situation some on the committee said is made worse when local care providers call for assistance rather than using their own staff to help downed patients.

Effingham Fire Chief Bob Tutko suggested a consultant to study the situation and whether it could be improved. The committee agreed to look into such a study, with a final recommendation on a study to the full County Board if it's warranted.

Others cautioned that it might be unrealistic to expect you could eliminate all Status Zero situations.

More review is expected at the committee's August meeting.