Freeman Ambulance Service celebrates its first decade

Monday, May 19, 2014 - Freeman Ambulance Service celebrates its first decade
JOPLIN, Mo. – There are a number of ways to validate the role of Freeman Ambulance Service in McDonald County. One could consider the number of calls the department responds to annually, which averages 2,300. Or one could examine the number of clinical staff – 18 in total – required to keep up with the volume. Then again, the 1.3 million miles the department’s ambulances have logged is rather impressive, too.

Regardless of which number is examined, the need is evident. Freeman Ambulance Service is celebrating its tenth year of operation. In total, it is estimated staff have responded to 23,000 emergency calls from the 540-mile McDonald County area. In recognition of the ten years of service offered by the department, and in honor of National EMS Week May 18 – May 24, Freeman Health System pays tribute to Freeman Ambulance Service. The level of care the emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and registered nurses provide extends far beyond transporting patients to Freeman. While en route, staff start medication, treat breathing issues and control pain. They can ventilate patients if needed and utilize an on-board defibrillator if the heart stops, offering lifesaving interventions in the most rural areas of McDonald County.

In the ten years since the program’s inception, Freeman Ambulance Service staff have worked with Freeman cardiologists and emergency room physicians to improve their level of care and immediately gather information to assess each patient. Each ambulance is equipped with an EKG monitor. If those readings indicate a patient is in need of cardiac intervention, paramedics alert Freeman cardiologists. By the time the patient arrives at Freeman Hospital West, the physician has been notified and the catheterization (cath) lab is being prepared for the patient’s procedure.

“At the national level, the standard is to take no more than 90 minutes for someone who arrives at a hospital with a heart issue to be treated in a cath lab,” said Mike Ross, Freeman Ambulance Service Director. “In the case of Freeman Ambulance Service and Freeman cardiologists, we are able to respond to the call, perform an EKG and transport that patient to Freeman West from the most remote areas of McDonald County, ultimately delivering the patient to the cath lab well within that 90-minute time-frame.”

Freeman Ambulance Service staff respond in a similar fashion to traumatic injuries. Early contact with Freeman Emergency Room alerts physicians that a trauma patient is en route, allowing clinical staff to be ready and waiting by the time the patient arrives.
“Our focus is not just on speed. It is also on letting the other players in the game know what is going on so they are prepared for our arrival,” said Ross.

Freeman Ambulance Service operates stations in Noel and Anderson. Each is equipped with an advanced life-support ambulance. Among the clinical staff are eight EMTs, eight paramedics and two registered nurses. Ross said those individuals – several of whom have more than 20 years of experience – include former flight paramedics, emergency department nurses and cath lab nurses.

Ross said one of the best locations for a paramedic ambulance service is a rural area such as McDonald County. It is there that the need is often greatest.
    
“Our focus is to triage these patients and send them to the facility they need to be at,” said Ross. “In any rural area, it is vital and often lifesaving to have a paramedic service that can respond quickly and efficiently. We fill that need for McDonald County.”

About Freeman Health System
Locally owned and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System has earned a number of US News & World Report distinctions – Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri, #4 hospital in the state, and High Performing status in seven specialties. The health system includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital, and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. A not-for-profit health system, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services, and women’s services and has more than 300 physicians on staff. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com or facebook.com/freemanhealthsystem or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at twitter.com/freemanceo.