JFD will be the primary fire and emergency medical provider for 911 calls

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

The city of Jemison will soon have an emergency transport system through the Jemison Fire Department as the fire and emergency medical provider for all 911 calls.

The city of Jemison will soon have an emergency transport system through the Jemison Fire Department as the fire and emergency medical provider for all 911 calls.

JFD Fire Chief John Dennis said Jemison is the first city in Chilton County to be able to provide response to 911 calls via a city owned ambulance purchased in 2008.

“We are soon going to become a transport unit for our residents here in the city,” Dennis said. “We hope this new service will put us in a position to respond and provide services to our citizens.”

Dennis said two primary ambulance companies that service areas in Chilton County are Care Ambulance and Regional Paramedical Services (RPS) that do a wonderful job of providing emergency and non-emergency transports.

However, Dennis said there are occasions when the ambulance companies take longer to arrive to an emergency call due to being tied up in other parts of the county.

“The primary ambulance company that we use is Care Ambulance and they cover more areas than just Jemison,” Dennis said. “There are times when JFD responds to a call and waits on the ambulance to arrive so we are hoping we will reduce the time spent waiting when we respond to an emergency call.”

Dennis said JFD is able to have the new service due to a federal grant awarded to JFD in 2012 of $106,240 to enhance fire protection coverage in the community.

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency (SAFER) grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security allows the JFD to hire two new full-time fire personnel to enhance coverage between the normal workday hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dennis said a major challenge of a volunteer-based department is having enough time to assemble and respond to fire and rescue calls during working hours when members are at their jobs.

Currently, the department has two part-time paid firefighters and 20 volunteer firefighters.

Dennis said with the addition of two more full-time personnel, someone will be on call during the workday hours to respond to emergency calls via the emergency transport system.

“If someone calls 911 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and needs emergency assistance, 911 will still dispatch Care Ambulance but we will have the option to call Care and say we are going to respond,” Dennis said. “The public really won’t notice a change with the new system with all of the 911 calls being the same but we will see a difference because we will be able to pick up our residents and transport them.”

The JFD will be the primary provider of medical transport for patients when adequate on-duty fire department personnel are available. When adequate on-duty personnel are not available, the primary private service provider will be requested for transport.

Dennis said JFD responds to an average of 50 calls per month of residents needing to be transported out of the city via an ambulance.

The new service would transport patients for a $600 base rate plus an amount equal to $8 per mile traveled in transport of the patients to the hospital with the fees collected by JFD for transportation provided to patients by JFD transport units.

Dennis said fire departments traditionally struggle generating enough revenue within a city due to expensive equipment costs, employee salaries and many other factors that often drain finances.

“In having this new emergency transport system we have figured out a way to boost revenue and be self-supportive without draining money from the city,” Dennis said. “We want to provide a service for our citizens without depending on private enterprise and generate more revenue for our city.”

Dennis said several pieces of medical equipment have been ordered for the ambulance and should be arriving within the next couple of weeks before the office of EMS and Trauma Division of the Alabama State Department of Public Health will give JFD an emergency transport license.

“I think everything should be up and running the first week of March,” Dennis said. “We are really excited and I think this is going to be a great thing for our city.”