Emergency medical response focus of Buhler meeting

By John Green
Hutchinson News – June 28, 2017

An effort to resuscitate a quicker emergency medical response for the Buhler area will be a primary topic of discussion Thursday when the Reno County Commission holds a special meeting in Buhler.

The community of 1,300 northeast of Hutchinson discontinued its ambulance service in early 2014 due to a declining number of trained volunteers, going instead to a first responder system backed by Reno County EMS in Hutchinson.

Since that time, however, said Reno County EMS Chief Terry David, the number of first response volunteers answering calls in the area has also fallen off, resulting in delayed response on emergency medical calls.

Officials have cited at least two cases since January where individuals died before an ambulance, coming from Hutchinson, arrived. In both cases, however, David noted, first responders were on scene.

David, who started as Reno County’s EMS director last summer, believes there are enough volunteers in the area to provide a reliable first responder system – if they can maintain training and not get burned out by having just a few dedicated individuals respond to every call.

“It was much like Pretty Prairie and Haven,” David said. “They had their own ambulance and their own (operating) license. As I understand it, it was all volunteer. A shortage of volunteers eventually made them make the tough decision to fold the service. It is not just a Buhler problem. It’s a problem all over the county.”

While reviewing EMS response around the county late last year, David said, he broached the subject with the mayor and area fire chief of reactivating first responders in the Buhler area.

“If we have a resident over there with a major medical problem, the outcome is not going to be good,” he said. “They have some first responders, but it’s not an organized group.”

“I think the community over there is on board with this,” he said. “They’ve purchased an AED (automated external defibrillator) on my recommendation. Now they are getting pagers for medical issues, so when they get a page now it is our CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system. I think the follow-up we need to do now is get some training and we’re getting that set up for after the first of July.”

Reno County EMS made 124 ambulance calls to the Buhler area last year, though a significant number may have been to the nursing home there, which has its own medical staff, David said.

Restoring a full ambulance service, David said, would likely cost the community “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“My recommendation is a robust first response group, with the right equipment to respond and start treatment,” he said.

The News was unable to reach Buhler Mayor Daniel Friesen for comment.

“I have some full-time people that live over there, who are invested in the community and are more than willing to help,” David said. “But they don’t want the entire responsibility. In fact, when I was in Rice County, I had a young lady who sold her house and moved away from the community because everyone expected her to be on every call.”


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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