Dougherty County's ambulance service is busy! - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty County's ambulance service is busy!

 February 13, 2007

 Albany --  Its 80 EMT's and paramedics responded to 19,000 calls last year, up 1,000 from 2005. Part of the reason may be people avoiding the doctor because of expensive health care bills.    

In the past three years the population of Dougherty County hasn't grown very much, but the number of calls to Dougherty County EMS has. 

"It's real strange to me. I don't understand the kind of increase in calls that we're seeing over the last three years." EMS Director Bobby Tripp says what's so strange about the surge in calls is that there wasn't an increase for years.  "We went seven years, or six years, from '97 to '02 with no increase in calls."

But suddenly, things changed.  "The type of calls where we showed the biggest increase last year, were cardiacs and motor vehicle accidents," said Tripp.

Crews were called out to 338 more wrecks. But the biggest increase was in cardiac calls. There was an increase of 643 over 2005. Those two numbers account for almost all of the difference in numbers, but there's one other area that may be a factor as well. "Due to health care costs, you might have a lot of people who don't have a doctor, and they might be using an emergency room instead of going to a doctor," said Tripp.

Or they may wait so long to treat an ailment, that it may just be an emergency by the time they take care of it. Regardless, Tripp says if the trend continues, he'll need more help. "If we continue to go up another thousand plus calls, we're going to need another crew, soon."

But there is good news. With the increase in calls, response time didn't increase much. The average time to patient is still less than six minutes, and Tripp says he plans to keep it that way.  

Not all types of calls increased, trauma calls were actually down over all. That means there were fewer calls for assaults and stabbings last year.  

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