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Cole County EMS to take on more patient transfers

Cole County commissioners approved the purchase of a special vehicle Tuesday that will help the ambulance service handle more patient transfers.

Cole County Emergency Medical Services will soon be getting two new ambulances to replace two others that are scheduled to be phased out this year. One of those will now be a smaller-sized ambulance, or transit van, the department will use for the patient transfers.

“What we would do with this vehicle is transfer folks to nursing homes or from the nursing home to the hospital,” said Jerry Johnston, the director of Cole County EMS. “And it enables us to use the bigger ambulances more efficiently and have them more available for 911 level calls.”

The smaller ambulance approved by commissioners Tuesday is saving the county about $60,000, according to Johnston.

ABC 17 News reported earlier this month that Johnston is also asking for two additional staff members, specifically emergency medical technicians, to handle the patient transfers.

“We felt like we were putting undue burden on the neighboring counties because we didn’t have the resources … to be able to do all of the 911 calls and all of the transfers,” Johnston said.

Right now, the county auditor is still reviewing the cost of hiring new employees. But Johnston said it should not cost the county much money with the savings of the smaller ambulance and the increased revenue the extra patient transfers would bring in.

“It’ll be cheaper, and it will actually enhance our 911 system because by using the EMTs to do the transfers all day long, it keeps another ALS (Advanced Life Support) ambulance available within the county to do 911 calls,” Johnston said.

The EMS director said he expects the commission to make a decision on the additional staffing within the next couple of weeks.

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