When the calls come in, paramedics go out

Working as a team
May. 22, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The 911 dispatcher called Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to an unresponsive patient on Main Street in Spindale on Thursday.

EMS paramedics were on scene and the patient, a 38-year-old male, was extremely combative.

 The crew called for back-up and Kaleb Johnson, an EMS supervisor, made his way to the Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) for the speedy drive to the scene. 

Johnson is one of three supervisors who drives the QRV that is equipped with the same lifesaving equipment and medicines as an EMS ambulance.  

The others, Crystal Suttles and Terry Ramsey, respond with the EMS ambulances when the case is acute, Johnson explained enroute to Spindale. 

"We back them up when needed."

The man in the ambulance was out-of-control due to some type of  drugs he had taken.  

Moments earlier the man got a ride on the back of a moped and the driver of the moped said the man "went limp and then became unresponsive."

At that time, the moped driver stopped off Main Street and called 911.

Upon arrival paramedics transferred the male from the street to the stretcher inside the ambulance and he became combative.

Johnson sped to the scene. 

"We stop at all red lights and clear the intersections," he said.

 Some vehicles that morning heard the sirens and saw the lights and pulled off the road. Others did not. 

"Some times they do not hear," Johnson said.

Drivers that move out of the way of emergency vehicles are allowing the personnel to get to the scene faster.

Arriving at the scene Johnson stepped inside the ambulance to see what he could do to help.

A few seconds later, another EMS paramedic began directing traffic.

 "Hey, we could use some traffic control out here," she said.

When it was confirmed the man would be transported to the hospital, Johnson rode in the ambulance.

The QRV was driven by Kerry Giles, the new Transportation Services Director for the county. Giles was the former executive director of the Transit Authority.

In her new role, Giles is the financial director of the two departments. 

"We will not be making medical decisions," she said.  "We will try to take some of the financial headaches away from EMS."

She plans to look into possible grant funding for EMS and will write the grants.

To become better acquainted with EMS on the road, Giles spent one morning last week riding with paramedics. 

"I am very impressed with how they took care of the situation. I have always had great respect for what they do," she said.

Giles said the new job assignments are working well. "They don't (EMS) have to worry about the finances. They are in chargeof all medical operations."

"I love a challenge," Giles said.

Last Wednesday she rode on three calls with EMS. Two emergency calls were to nursing homes and the third to the unresponsive patient.

"On the first call, the person was very calm, the second the person was very anxious and the third very combative. All different scenarios," she said.

Upon arrival at Rutherford Regional Medical Center, Giles joined Johnson and the EMS crews and talked about the situation. 

With the patient safe inside the emergency room,  EMS crews went to the station in Spindale.

The QRVs have been answering the high acquity calls for the past three years and if there are no ambulances available, the QRV is the first responder on the scene and can begin administering help while waiting for a transport vehicle if one is necessary.

Johnson said all EMS employees, including office manager, Sandra Thompson, is a trained paramedic and her services are needed when someone drives into the parking lot and needs emergency help.

"I love my job," Johnson said, who has been full-time with EMS six years. If you're in it for the money, that's the wrong reason," he said.

However, most EMS staff members have second jobs because of the schedules.

Johnson teaches at Isothermal Community College and is also the Youth Director at First Baptist Church in Spindale.

"We all work together," Johnson said of the emergency responders from all walks of life. He commended the rescue crews, fire departments, 911, and the law enforcement community, who respond when help is needed.

Of all the calls Johnson has answered, the most rewarding are the new births.

"I have had  the opportunity to participate in the delivery of several babies. That's the most rewarding because in our line of work we see a lot of death," Johnson. "It's so good to see life coming into the world."

Regardless of the call, when a dispatcher calls for EMS, "We go," Johnson said.

"We're here for everybody when they need it," he said. "The person with the chest pain or the grandmother on the floor."