Ambulance Not Answering Dispatch

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pinballwiz86

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So..I'm monitoring a 911 Dispatch frequency. Someone called 911 to report that someone is unconscious and unresponsive at home. The dispatcher paged the ambulance. No answer.

The dispatcher ended up paging the ambulance 6 more times before someone finally answered.

Time elapsed was about 15 minutes!

To get to the location took another good 15 minutes minimum.

WTF.

Thoughts?
 

JeffDS3

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Is it a volunteer service? If it is, it can take time to rally a crew, get them to the ambulance and go en route.
 

pinballwiz86

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Is it a volunteer service? If it is, it can take time to rally a crew, get them to the ambulance and go en route.
I'm looking online but I can't find that information.

Volunteer or not. That's a long response time for EMS.

Might as well drive them to a hospital yourself. lol.
 

JeffDS3

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You get what you pay for. If you want a always hot crew, ready to go, you generally have to pay for it now. It's also possible that it wasn't a stat call, so they didn't call for mutual aid.
 

ecps92

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People have lives, even with Volunteer/Call Services.

There are many impacts and reasons they might have issues mustering.
Some open up the topic of why didn't Dispatch go for Mutual Aid after 10 min's of No Response.

However, not everyone works in-town now-a-days
They might be 30-40 min's or more away.
Not all employers are nice, years ago the Local Plant would shut down so the FF's could respond...try that now...



I'm looking online but I can't find that information.

Volunteer or not. That's a long response time for EMS.

Might as well drive them to a hospital yourself. lol.
 

JeffDS3

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Yep. I always here my regional dispatch center calling for backup crews when their hot crews goes out on a call. They can usually rouse someone quickly though because it's a small area, and they all live in the area.
 

SteveC0625

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I'm looking online but I can't find that information.

Volunteer or not. That's a long response time for EMS.

Might as well drive them to a hospital yourself. lol.
A manned (paid or volunteer) ambulance service would send a call to mutual aid immediately if they were unable to respond. No answer to a page pretty much tells you it's a volunteer unit.

There are a finite and shrinking number of volunteer ems personnel across the country. When someone complains about volunteer ambulance response time, I hand them an application form.

I understand and even share your concern, but your "lol" shows a clear lack of understanding of the various types of ems delivery around the country and the manpower shortages associated with it. Frankly, it's disrespectful and demeaning. And there's nothing funny about it at all.
 
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DaveNF2G

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When a volunteer service contracts with a commercial ambulance for coverage, people start complaining about having to pay.

The volunteer services in my area bill the patient already. Some of the amounts are quite high, given that there are no salaries being paid. But commercial service bills are much higher. Some health insurance covers EMS automatically, while other providers classify ambulances as "out of network."

In my case, my recent emergency ambulance trip was paid for by my insurance, but the insurance company sent the check to me and I had to pay the ambulance bill with it. There is a move afoot to change NYS law to compel insurance providers to pay ambulances directly regardless of network status.
 

902

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Not all employers are nice, years ago the Local Plant would shut down so the FF's could respond...try that now...
Ain't that the truth! These days are all about "what are you doing for me right now?" rather than being a contributing member of the community.

I came in on the tail end of that. Thirty-four years ago, I was an apprentice electronics technician at a two-way shop. I was also on a volunteer fire department. I remember the owner coming into the shop, tapping me on the shoulder, and telling me that my department just "blew out" for a second alarm house fire and that I'd better go. He did tell me not to speed or put the blue light on. Said something like, "Get there safely. You won't be any good to anyone if you wreck up. The fire will still be there when you get there." Off I went. I had another job like that. I felt so good about working there.

After those, I was in utter dirtbag places where I'd been threatened with termination for deploying on an incident of national significance that had been approved internally prior to my leaving. After much ado and politics, I lost all of my vacation time while I was away. What I was doing (which was the same thing you do) wasn't covered by any special legislative protection.

The place where I am and the activities I do now aren't covered by any special protections, either. Those days of the owner coming in and saying, "your town needs you" are no more.

The world has changed. People have changed.
 

Golay

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Saving battery juice

I'm thinking the answer to the OP query is simply someone didn't have their pager on them.
And others hearing the page made a phone call to the responder. Of course it could be something else, but that's the first thought I had.
 

SteveC0625

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In my case, my recent emergency ambulance trip was paid for by my insurance, but the insurance company sent the check to me and I had to pay the ambulance bill with it. There is a move afoot to change NYS law to compel insurance providers to pay ambulances directly regardless of network status.
Your recent experience brings mine to the conversation. In June I fell and shattered my heel bone. We were camped up in the northern Adirondacks. My wife called 911 less than a minute after the injury. It took 80+ minutes for an ambulance to reach me. The local squad got paged 3 times five minutes apart. Their prime unit was already out on a call. After fifteen minutes, the call went to mutual aid. The next nearest squad was 25 minutes away, and from the front gate of the campground to our camp site is another 10-15 minutes. Luckily, there was a nurse/firefighter/former EMT nearby. She triaged me (after I had already done the same) and sat with me until the ambulance arrived. The ambulance ride to the hospital took another 35-40 minutes.

The bill was $830 for the ambulance plus $439 mileage. Me being over 65, the bill went to Medicare first and then to my insurance carrier. I got an informational copy of the bill only.

The point here is two fold. First, EMS services in rural and mountainous areas are much different from the cities and suburbs. Trained and certified volunteers are not plentiful, and the distances are considerable. That is the reality of things in much of this country. My only problem with this particular situation is the length of time before mutual aid was started. But that is local procedure set by the individual ambulance squads. It's not how I'd do it.

Secondly, EMS ain't cheap. The ambulance crew that transported me was a paid driver and a volunteer paramedic. The cost is typical of this entire region. I live at the southern edge of the Adirondacks, and the squads down here bill about the same amounts.

The town I live in is the only area in this county where the ambulance does not bill for services. We're all volunteer, and we can't always raise a full ALS crew which means we have to pass the call to our backup which is a commercial service. Luckily, they are always dispatched at the same time we are and not cancelled until we know that we have a crew. If we don't have a paramedic, they continue to the scene and it becomes an ALS link-up.

When we move away from the cities and large suburbs, we make trade-offs whether we realize it or not. Small towns don't have paid crews for EMS and fire, and there's rarely anyone sitting in the station waiting for a call so we're pretty much guaranteed to have a longer wait for help to arrive. And it's a longer trip to the hospital, let alone to reach a trauma center or cath lab.

That's about as real as it gets.
 

garys

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We really need a like button on this forum.

This affects mostly volunteers, but even paid services have this problem sometimes. There are often more calls than units, and mutual aid is not always available.

Without knowing the type and size of the system as well as what other resources are available, it's pretty much impossible to comment intelligently on the topic.

A manned (paid or volunteer) ambulance service would send a call to mutual aid immediately if they were unable to respond. No answer to a page pretty much tells you it's a volunteer unit.

There are a finite and shrinking number of volunteer ems personnel across the country. When someone complains about volunteer ambulance response time, I hand them an application form.

I understand and even share your concern, but your "lol" shows a clear lack of understanding of the various types of ems delivery around the country and the manpower shortages associated with it. Frankly, it's disrespectful and demeaning. And there's nothing funny about it at all.
 

garys

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This is something that people who move to rural areas to "get away from it all" often don't realize. They move from a big city to a rural area and are shocked to find that their fire department and ambulance are staffed with volunteers, and their law enforcement is a trooper or deputy that is covering a couple of hundred square miles by themselves. Oh, that hospital you'll go to has three beds in the ED, no ICU, and no surgeons around after about 7:00PM. And it's an hour away.



When we move away from the cities and large suburbs, we make trade-offs whether we realize it or not. Small towns don't have paid crews for EMS and fire, and there's rarely anyone sitting in the station waiting for a call so we're pretty much guaranteed to have a longer wait for help to arrive. And it's a longer trip to the hospital, let alone to reach a trauma center or cath lab.

That's about as real as it gets.
 

ofd8001

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My fire service career spanned 39 years. In the beginning our department was strictly volunteer. When I left it was mostly career (firefighters staffing three stations 24/7).

The first budget I remember was less than $100K per year. When I left, it was $4.5M. Fortunately new homes and businesses built up our tax base allowing that volunteer/career transformation.

Suffice it to say as a fire chief I lived with great concern that during the volunteer period, a fire call especially during the day time would happen and no one was available to respond. Fortunately that didn't happen.

The bottom line is that people will get only the level of public safety they are willing to finance. If that system is volunteer dependent there is also the need for people willing to make personal sacrifices for their communities. Such people are few and far between and getting even farther these days.
 

SteveC0625

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Suffice it to say as a fire chief I lived with great concern that during the volunteer period, a fire call especially during the day time would happen and no one was available to respond. Fortunately that didn't happen.

The bottom line is that people will get only the level of public safety they are willing to finance. If that system is volunteer dependent there is also the need for people willing to make personal sacrifices for their communities. Such people are few and far between and getting even farther these days.
Our volunteer firefighter situation is so thin that three neighboring departments have joined together with a common dispatch procedure. A call in any district, even the smallest service call, gets all three departments toned out. Whether or not they actually all roll is based on the specifics of the incident. It's a huge time saver if it's really a fire.

We happen to live at a place where three counties all come together, and each department is in a different county. Two of them are dispatched on the same frequency with the same tone outs so either county can wake up the other department in addition to its own.

On the few and far between note, I've recently watched 3 volunteer firefighters fail the Firefighter I course. They are all young and enthusiastic but have great difficulty with schooling and testing. By their department's rules and state regulations, they're pretty much excluded from most firefighting duties.

There's a school of thought that feels that too much formal training is required for volunteers on both the EMS side and the fire side. I don't agree with that sentiment because there are too many complexities, responsibilities, liabilities, and dangers associated with both services. But it does negatively impact the volunteer pool.
 

KK4JUG

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It's pretty much the same as a larger community ambulance service not responding because all the units are already on calls. It may be tragic but stuff happens. If it is a rare event, you get over it and move on. If it's a frequent occurrence, you make plans to prevent it in the future.
 

garys

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There's a school of thought that feels that too much formal training is required for volunteers on both the EMS side and the fire side. I don't agree with that sentiment because there are too many complexities, responsibilities, liabilities, and dangers associated with both services. But it does negatively impact the volunteer pool.
I don't know about the fire service, but this attitude has persisted for many years in EMS. It's held back EMS for everyone because some volunteers feel that their good intentions are more important than actually knowing what they are doing.
 

JeffDS3

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If you want to talk about response times, I once had a 2 hour drive to a call up in the mountains, only to be held back on scene then cancelled. We rolled out at 1 AM and didn't get back to quarters until 5:30.
 
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