WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (3/13/13) - Public health and safety were the predominant themes at Monday morning’s Webster County Fiscal Court meeting.
First to address the court was Andrew Gutteridge with Rave Mobile Safety, the company that operates a program called Smart 911.
“As 911 has evolved, more calls are coming in from mobile phones,” he said. “Federal studies show that as many as 70 percent of all 911 calls come from mobile phones.”
That means less information for 911 dispatchers than ever before. When calls come in from land lines, dispatchers at least automatically have a location. From cell phones they must rely on the caller to provide all of the information.
What Smart 911 does is offer residents the opportunity to be prepared for an emergency by providing their vital information to the system, that way when a call comes in the dispatcher at their 911 terminal will have access to all information associated with that number, as long as the caller has entered it into the system.
Smart 911 profiles can include anything from your home address, to the names and medical conditions of every member of the household. It is also possible to enter photographs of the house, vehicles and each family member connected with the number.
“This would benefit the citizens as well as the responders,” said Webster County 911 director Doug Sauls. “If you have children and put their information into the system, you can also add a photograph. In a missing persons case the dispatcher could immediately send that photograph to the officers’ phones.”
Everyone who signs up for the database is required to update their profile every six months in order to maintain its accuracy. According to Gutteridge, in an emergency every second counts, and Smart 911 saves a lot of time.
“In Nashville last year 911 received an open call from a land line,” he said. “Normally when 911 gets a call without anyone on the other end they dispatch a patrol car to check it out. In this case the dispatcher knew that there was a resident of the household who had suffered a recent heart attack. EMS was automatically dispatched and saved the patient’s life.
The proposed cost to the county would be $13,500 the first year, and $10,000 a year for the next five years of the contract. Doug Sauls said that they intended to speak with the Ambulance Board at its next meeting to discuss sharing the cost.
“How would this effect Providence’s ambulance service?” asked magistrate Tony Felker.
“Would this cover the whole county?” asked magistrate Jerry ‘Poogy’ Brown.
“It would cover the whole county, but Providence wouldn’t have access to the system,” said Doug Sauls.
“Providence is part of the county,” Brown replied.
“But all of the 911 calls in Providence go to their dispatch not ours,” magistrate Chad Townsend added.
For Providence 911 to have access to the Smart 911 system, the city would be required to pay similar fees to that of the county. At the recommendation of Judge Jim Townsend, the court decided to table the discussion until they could speak with the city of Providence and the Webster County Ambulance Board.
Next on the agenda was Chandra Younger from PHI Air Medical. PHI is the primary life lift provider for Webster County and most of the state. Their air bases in Greenville and Paducah serve Webster County and the surrounding area.
“I’m here because I want to do a better job of helping you have a united front with your local EMS,” Younger said. “I also want everyone to be aware of our member services.”
PHI offers memberships to individuals in their covered area for around $50 a year. That membership fee covers every related person in a household, and up to three unrelated people in the same house.
“An average flight from Baptist Hospital in Madisonville to Vanderbilt would run between $22,000 and $25,000. The best insurance in this area only pays about 75 to 80 percent. The patient is responsible for the rest.”
For members the rest of that fee would be covered by their dues.
Younger told the court that the Fiscal Court in Crittenden County recently offered membership to all of their employees and all of the residents in the county for a reduced $40 a year fee.
The only catch to the offer is that PHI is not the only life lift provider. If Webster County EMS contacts PHI for an emergency airlift and all of their helicopters are busy, they would immediately call one of the other two life lift service providers. A membership fee with PHI would cover nothing with the other providers, leaving the patient responsible for the bill.
In an emergency situation, when the patient is often unresponsive, the first responders make the call. A patient already in a hospital, however, has the legal right to choose which service provider they use. 80 percent of medical air transports, according to Younger, are hospital to hospital.
With no action to take, the court moved on to other business. They approved the hiring of Joey Hawkins at the road department and Jordon Wilson at the jail.
The court then entered a closed executive session to discuss personnel.
J-E News Editor
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