Ambulance Chief Pushes More 911 Reforms - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: 911 Emergency

Ambulance Chief Pushes More 911 Reforms

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An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation has the Metro Fire Department looking at even more changes in how it responds to medical emergencies.

The goal: to fix problems that some insiders have been warning could lead to tragedy.

Our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams uncovered the nightmare stories that has the city taking action.

The recommendations are contained in a just-released study prepared by the assistant fire chief in charge of emergency medical services.

It all follows other changes first ordered two months ago right after our NewsChannel 5 investigation of Metro's 911 emergency.

It was the desperate calls for help that prompted the board that oversees Metro's 911 center to order changes in how calls for ambulances are answered.

The first step was an end to a policy that sometimes had operators demanding that frantic callers go though a lengthy checklist before they'd send any help.

"When someone needs help, we ought to be sending the help, then asking questions," said Police Chief Ronal Serpas, who heads the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Board.

Now, that's prompted the head of Metro's EMS division, Steve Meador, to look at how all sorts of calls are handled.

For example, calls from doctors' offices.

The EMS chief wants to eliminate the emergency medical dispatch questions in those cases.

"Other health professionals should not have to convince our call takers of the need for an ambulance," Meador writes.

He's also recommending that some types of calls be upgraded and treated as real emergencies.  For example:

  • Animal bites, sexual assaults and falls involving a -- quote -- "possibly dangerous body area" or a "serious hemorrhage." Those are currently classified as non-emergency calls.
  • Convulsions or seizures where it's not clear that the person is breathing normally.  Again, that's currently non-emergency.
  • And "near hanging, strangulation or suffocation" is also now non-emergency.

But if the ambulance boss gets his way, help will soon be on the way a lot faster.

Those recommendations will be presented next week to the three-member board that oversees the emergency communications center.

The doctor who advises the board says he likes these ideas and thinks they ought to be implemented immediately.

Back to NewsChannel 5 Investigates

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