New emergency transport system begins in Jemison

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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The new emergency transport system through the Jemison Fire Department started responding to calls at 8 a.m. on Monday.

Jemison Fire Chief John Dennis said the ambulance responded to three calls on the first day with the first emergency call shortly after the service started at 8 a.m.

“We wanted everything to start at 8 a.m. and it was at 8 a.m. we had our first call from someone needing an emergency transport,” Dennis said. “We wound up transporting three people with the service on the first day so it was a busy day.”

Jemison is the first city in Chilton County to be able to provide response to 911 calls from a city-owned ambulance purchased in 2008.

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

Dennis said one of the benefits to having the program is it will provide a service to the residents of Jemison with the ability to respond in a timely fashion.

Although the city received the necessary license to operate the ambulance in February, Dennis said JFD was unable to bill the insurance companies until they could receive the Medicare provider number.

“We got everything in place on July 31 but we wanted to wait and get everything started Monday,” Dennis said.

There are two primary ambulance companies that service areas in Chilton County including Care Ambulance and Regional Paramedical Services (RPS) that provide emergency and non-emergency transports.

Dennis said the primary ambulance companies have been gracious in doing whatever they can to accommodate the new service in Jemison, especially during hours when the transport system in Jemison is unable to respond.

“We rely heavily on them and they have done whatever they can to help us out in those off hours we aren’t available to transport the emergency calls,” Dennis said.

The 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 personnel to enhance coverage between the normal workday hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Currently, the department has two full-time personnel, nine part-time firefighters and volunteer firefighters.

With the addition of the two 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 or RPS but JFD will have the option to call Care or RPS and let them know they can respond.

Dennis said the public won’t notice a change with the new system with all of the 911 calls being made the same way but the difference will be in the quick response time from JFD to places in Jemison.

When adequate on-duty personnel who are certified paramedics are not available, the primary private service provider will be requested for transport.

With the three emergency calls on Monday, Dennis transported patients to Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster but the service can transport to other hospitals in the Birmingham and Montgomery regions.

“We are hoping to have a quick response time in transporting these patients who in some cases will be in critical conditions,” Dennis said. “In times of an emergency, those few extra minutes are crucial and we are excited to be able to provide this service to the people in this community.”