Marion County commissioners asked EMS director Ed Debesis at their Monday meeting why a Tampa ambulance was dispatched instead of one from Marion to a possible heart attack southeast of Lincolnville.
Commissioner Dianne Novak said her reason for questioning Debesis was because Tampa to Lincolnville is 18 miles as opposed to Marion to Lincolnville at 11 miles.
“It was a mistake by (Marion County) dispatch,” Debesis said.
Concerned about the incident, Novak said she wanted to know where the boundaries are.
“Since this was a mistake,” she said, “what are we going to do about it?”
Debesis said he visited with Sheriff Rob Craft and Emergency Communications director Linda Klenda.
In addition, Debesis said he fixed the problem internally by letting his full-time crews know that if they believed the call was close enough to their area, they would respond.
“My full-time guys have full authority now to jump calls, or not jump calls,” he said. “No ifs, ands or buts from me (regarding jurisdiction).”
Debesis said that if his crews are close to the area, they will respond, and if the other crew dispatched to the scene gets there, and they are not needed, then they will get called off.
“But, because of the issue in Lincolnville, I put this in place right away, and after talking to Linda and Rob,” he said.
Novak asked: “Right off the top of your head, what would you say would be the line for Hillsboro and Marion?”
Debesis said that if he splits the map in half, north and south, the crews can go as far north or as far south as they need to.
If the full-time ambulance crew had the authority prior to the incident in Lincolnville, Debesis said, the Marion crew could have responded sooner than the Tampa ambulance did.
Commission chairman Randy Dallke said he, too, had concerns about the Lincolnville woman and another similar issue that happened Thursday, Nov. 16, in Goessel involving someone with a heart problem.
“The Peabody ambulance was already rolling,” Dallke said, “and the Peabody crew asked if first responders in Goessel were also on their way?”
The dispatcher told the Peabody ambulance crew: “Well, I can send them out, too.”
Novak said: “I just don’t understand, isn’t that a given (regarding dispatch and which crew should be dispatched).”
Debesis said it should be automatic.
County Clerk Tina Spencer said she could schedule Craft and Klenda to meet with the commission and talk about this.
Commissioner Kent Becker said he thinks it would be worthwhile for Craft and Klenda to talk about this with them.
Related to the Lincolnville incident, Dallke said he wondered if the next door neighbor had an emergency, would the same dispatcher call for Tampa ambulance, too?
“According to the map,” Debesis said, “Tampa shouldn’t have been paged to Lincolnville as the first responders.
“They were later in the game, and I have had that conversation with Linda and Rob.”
Dallke said after the Lincolnville mix-up, not even two weeks later, it happened again in Goessel when Peabody asked if Goessel was the first responder.
The bottom line, Debesis said, is that for any code blue or code red, EMS will be doing a dual dispatch from now on.
“I also asked her to make sure her dispatchers hear it,” he said, “because on a blue code or red, emergency personnel will always need extra help.”
“We have four paramedics in total right now,” he said, “and in January, two more are coming onboard (meaning full coverage for the county).”