Freeman Ambulance Service is celebrating 10 years of serving McDonald County.
Director Mike Ross said the first thing the ambulance service was able to accomplish upon taking over in McDonald County was to establish two ambulances with paramedics 24 hours per day.
“The typical crew on each day is an EMT with a paramedic,” said Ross. “Since then we’ve hired a couple of registered nurses to work here that also work in the emergency room at the hospital, and the other one works in the catheterization lab at Freeman West.”
Ross said the paramedics originally lived outside of McDonald County, and by helping to further the education of some local residents, all paramedics on staff now live in the county.
Being operated by Freeman Health System, Ross said they were able to get an early start on interfacing ambulance cardiac care with what is going on at Freeman West.
“Also our trauma care, with the trauma system at Freeman West, and because of that, we’ve developed a good system for getting patients that are suffering from trauma or from a cardiac event to the correct hospital where they need to go,” Ross said.
En route to the hospital, Ross said cardiac patients are getting the appropriate medications and blood thinners, their 12 lead EKG are analyzed as is the acuteness of their condition, and that information is all relayed to Freeman West cardiologists and emergency room staff.
“Those are things that weren’t done 10 years ago before we started the service, and it’s something that we’ve gotten very good at doing now,” he said.
Since McDonald County geography has not changed in those 10 years, Ross said the time from the station to the location has not changed.
“But the time from when the patient’s incident first occurred to when they are getting definitive care has been shortened drastically because of the fact that, again, we’ve been able to take patients to the correct hospital. If they need a surgeon we’re getting them to a place that can do the surgery quickly, or to a cardiologist that can address those problems,” he said.
For someone who needs their service in the Anderson area, Ross said patients could be transported to Freeman Neosho within 45 minutes.
“With our cardiac patients,” he said, “from the time we initially make contact with them until they are in the catheterization lab right now we’re averaging about 88 minutes.”
Even coming from such a rural area as McDonald County, Ross said that tops national standards.
“For example a national goal for a hospital was — if someone walked into the hospital emergency room — the goal was to have them into the catheterization lab and addressing their problem in about 90 minutes,” he said.
Ross said it’s a national trend that some hospitals are having trouble meeting that goal.
“And we’re actually slightly below that out here in the rural area by honing this new protocol and system that we have with getting people up to Freeman West in a very short period of time,” he said.
Ross said that process with the cardiologists looking at the EKG and heart rhythm and other procedures before the patient arrives to the hospital has greatly shortened the time that the patient spends in the emergency room before going into the catheterization lab.
Ross concluded, “It’s been a teamwork effort between the ambulance, cardiology and the emergency room to make it happen.”
A total of 18 field personnel are stationed in Anderson and at Noel, who Ross said handle about 2,300 calls annually. In the 10 years, he said the department’s ambulances have logged 1.3 million miles.