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Hospital expanding ambulance coverage

POSTED: April 24, 2009 9:36 a.m.
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Jim Turner

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West Liberty County residents may soon get quicker emergency medical service when Liberty Regional EMS gets its first west-end station.
Complete with an ambulance, paramedic and emergency medical technician, the 24-hour post just needs to find a home before services start, EMS Director Jim Turner told the Liberty County Hospital Authority Tuesday.
Now, officials are checking locations along Airport Road, including at the old Airport.
Turner called it “a good central location,” because of access to Highway 196 toward Gum Branch and Highway 84 and Walthourville.
The county does own land in the area.
“It’s just a matter of finding a place to house [the trucks],” Turner said. “As soon as we can find a place to house, we’ll put that truck on.”
Precious minutes are often sacrificed in west end emergencies, as most of the average 700 a month EMS calls are in Hinesville, Turner explained, and responders stationed at Midway are usually called if the Hinesville station is tied up.
“It’s a long time,” Turner said. “We’re just trying to cut that responses time down.”
Plans for an different EMS station, in Tradeport East, are being finalized.
Turner said the Liberty County Development Authority will discuss transferring land titles during its meeting Monday.
And those two new stations are not the only work on the horizon for ambulance services in the county. A completion date has not been set for the new EMS headquarters building on South Main, but Turner explained during Tuesday’s meeting that plans are being drawn up.
Funding for the headquarters and east-end station, estimated at around $750,000, is likely to come from the hospital-improvement portion of the voter-approved special purpose local option sales tax.
Turner said most of the SPLOST coming to the EMS will be used for the headquarters building.
Authority members also heard about the purchase of an ambulance. The service routinely runs seven units in the county and the purchase will replace an older unit.
The county sets aside $100,000 in the general fund every year for a new ambulance. And, even as a statewide trauma care network is still being hashed out, the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission is writing a $72,000 check to Liberty County to improve emergency medical services here.
Grant selection was based on certain criteria, including mileage and distance to health care facilities.
Turner explained the check should be here within a week, then the project to acquire the truck will go out to bid.
Long County will be getting the same grant.
LRMC CEO Scott Kroell reported the hospital is also on tap to receive $20,000 from a grant Hinesville is getting to help cover costs for taking psychiatric patients to Savannah.
“One of the problems we have in our emergency department is we see an average of two psychiatric patients a day,” Kroell said.
Patients usually have to be taken to the VA clinic or Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah.
“This would provide a very effective way to transport these individuals in their time of need,” Kroell said, adding it would free up the hospital’s resources.
The program is to launch this summer.

 

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