Shawnee County Commissioners on Thursday made a move that should reduce the number of ambulance trips made in response to the thousands of calls the county receives each year from people who don’t need them.
Commissioners have made changes to Shawnee County’s 911 call system that will allow callers to speak to a nurse instead, who can help better address their issues without an ambulance ride.
Commissioners Aaron Mays, Bill Riphahn and Kevin Cook voted unanimously to approve the authorization and execution of the Nurse Navigation and Crew Force process implementation.
Cook said the phrase “Crew Force” does not refer to staffing and hiring, but to the name of the software involved.
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The program will help Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center and American Medical Response, the county’s ambulance service, work to ensure that callers are sent to the right place at the right time, said Nelson Casteel, ambulance compliance manager at the Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center. county.
The program will allow people who don’t need immediate care to connect with a nurse, who can schedule doctor’s appointments or have them transported to hospital at a later date. AMR may engage in Uber and Lyft rides for people to be transported instead of an ambulance, Casteel said.
Scarcity of resources determines who gets priority first
While 911 calls can be made for a variety of reasons, the Nurse Navigation and Crew Force will help emergency responders facing a shortage of resources identify priorities for immediate emergency response.
When an ambulance arrives on the scene, if the patient doesn’t need to be transported but still needs help, it will be arranged as part of the process put in place, Casteel said.
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The commissioners voted 3-0 in January 2022 to direct county personnel to negotiate the implementation of nurse’s waterline wording into the county’s contract with AMR.
The line’s presence is expected to eliminate nearly a quarter of the approximately 16,000 ambulance rides AMR makes annually in Shawnee County, commissioners heard last year from AMR’s Mickey Huber.
Will you notice the difference when making an emergency call?
People making an emergency call should not notice a change when on the phone with an emergency operator.
When a supervisor asks, “Do you need police, fire, or medical assistance?” and callers may need medical attention, will be passed on to the AMR dispatch, which will be able to determine the best solution to a caller’s emergency based on the caller’s responses to questions. Solutions would involve transferring the call to a nurse or dispatching an ambulance.
“The nurses will all be licensed in Kansas, but they may be in a call center elsewhere,” Casteel said. “It should look normal.”
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Jon Antrim, regional director of Global Medical Response, the parent company of AMR, told the commissioners in a working session Monday that dispatchers after receiving answers to three questions usually know if the patient is experiencing a true emergency support advanced vital and, “Typically, that takes less than 30 seconds.”
It takes “about 90 seconds” to make a decision about less urgent calls, such as toothaches, sore throats, headaches and stubbed toes, he said.
AMR’s service is not being reduced but being improved, Antrim said.
“Especially for some of these underprivileged communities that rely on ambulance and emergency rooms being their primary health care,” he said. “This will allow us to get them into the nurse navigation system and maybe we can move them to places like GraceMed and federally qualified facilities.”
No date has been set for the program to start, but Casteel hopes to see it implemented in the next six weeks.
Keishera is most recently the business reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @Lately_KT.