Ron Wolff County Forum October 14, 2013
Captain's Cove Marina Club, Greenbackville, VA
About 65 citizens were in attendance. Jeff Terwilliger, Director of Public Safety for Accomack County was Guest Speaker. Several Firechiefs from local Fire Stations were also in attendance.
Ron Wolff, member of Accomack County BOS, opened forum discussing several issues in Accomack County
1. One issue is deer hunting with dogs and final decision is expected at upcoming Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting on October 16, 2013.
2 . Mr. Wolff commented on proposed Atlantic town center at Wallops Spaceport on Route175 near Dream Roller rink. Hearing will be held in near future. Developer was involved in wastewater treatment in area. The proposed town center is a massive development that according to developer will reflect an Eastern Shore town with multi-family homes and shops. Developer expects businesses will produce job positions for area. Mr. Wolff commented that of all the businesses over the past decade only one came to fruition. Mr. Wolff further stated that most space flight workers are transient and they are not really planning to stay in area and buy a home. Hearing will be October 16 at county BOS meeting.
Guest Speaker and Topic: County policy on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and response times will be discussed. Jeff Terwilliger is guest speaker and will speak to northern operations in county. Mr. Terwilliger discussed background of EMS services in area. Staffing model was reviewed with respect to way system dispatches calls. It was initially considered fragmented. Initially crew was alerted for 8 minutes, and if no response, another fire station was alerted for 8 minutes, and if again no response, it moves to next nearest. There are at minimum 4 staffed 24 hr EMS units in the county at all times. Additional EMS units are often staffed as well.
System was shifted to a 2 person crew with at least one as a career person (career person is one with at least EMT enhanced training which include starting IV and cardio-drugs) to respond to calls. In area, Oak Hall is second busiest in county for EMS calls overall and leads county in multiple calls at the same time. Reconfiguration of staff was done to optimize call time. At this time there are four staff units. In Oak Hall area, they try to keep paramedics ready for response due to large number of calls.
At the beginning, there was some push back when changing system. The response system was modified to optimize calls. Now within first 8 minutes, call goes to all immediate fire stations instead of waiting 8 minutes for each firehouse. In order to make this system work, it had to be linked. Total response time is targeted to be within 20 minutes or less; actual time averages about 16 minutes. It was in June of 2013 system was linked. However there is still a gap and that was in northern part of county including the Greenbackville area, and that is the reason for developing the Sprint mechanism which is a truck that will allow EMT to get to scene within 20 minutes 90% of the time. Mr. Wolff noted that some other isolated areas, although mileage-wise closer to fire station, it still takes time due to nature of winding road. A response time of 20 minutes is virtually impossible.
The challenge for many fire stations is not having enough volunteers. The key is to deploy assets needed as soon as possible and that is the reason for the Sprint Truck which is a non-transport vehicle but the staff can provide IV and emergency drugs. The Sprint Truck (one person unit with highly trained individual) is a SUV/pickup type which is not suitable for injured personnel transport. The rapid response vehicle (Sprint vehicle) is moving from firehouse to firehouse in order to optimize strategy. Evaluating data is key in trying to anticipate needs. Due to highly trained EMT or paramedic in Sprint Truck, it is adding capacity to all local fire stations.
Audience Member (AM) asked how does 911 tax in phone bill gets disperse and Mr. Wolff noted upgrade to regional 911 Center in town in Accomac which serves Accomack and Northampton counties.
AM asked about local Maryland fire stations and rescue units, and in dire cases they will respond to priority one emergencies, but they are not linked into the Accomack county EMS system. Mr. Wolff noted that a similar issue arises in southern part of Accomack county in that the most immediate fire stations are located in Northampton county, and he foresees the possibility of developing the Sprint vehicle concept in the southern part of Accomack county as well.
AM questioned how Captain's Cove security could aid in emergency situations, and responses from local firechiefs indicated there is a mechanism where training can be done for Cove security in order to augment their EMT abilities. Similar situation was a concern in Trail's End area.
Mr. Wolff commented on the importance of volunteers in the county fire departments and that the county does not own any firetrucks or ambulances. If the county had to pay for such vehicles it would be a major tax issue for the citizens. He added that all residents of county should appreciate the efforts of the volunteers and assist as much as possible in their efforts for us.
AM asked if Sprint Truck is county vehicle and it is. The local fire stations have independent rescue trucks.
Mr. Terwilliger noted that upgrades to Sprint vehicle can be added in future. Possible upgrades to Sprint could include therapeutic hypothermia, RSI, and deployment of pneumatic CPR devices to name a few.
Mr. Terwilliger summarized that the initial data does show the positive impact of the Sprint vehicle in response time; preliminary data shows improvement in northern county EMS service delivery as anticipated. However it is still early to make a firm determination and the data will continue to be monitored. Based on data, the county BOS will need to determine if funding will be extended beyond January 1. AM asked how they can support this concept and Mr. Terwilliger indicated data will be primary decision point but citizen's support is always appreciated.
The audience thanked Mr. Terwilliger and Mr. Wolff for forum and information.
Meeting ended at approximately 8:30 PM.
Notes taken by Tim Getek
N.B. These notes do not constitute the public record of this meeting. The information contained herein is offered in good faith and is presented as accurately as possible. These notes are intended to be a public service devoid of political commentary for those who are interested in following the civic affairs of Chincoteague Island and Accomack County. Notes of the meeting are recorded, transcribed and distributed by volunteers who receive no financial compensation for their efforts.