Nebraska City firefighters' role in emergency medical services has meant patients reach the hospital more quickly, Paramedic Manager Rodney Turpel told city commissioners on Monday.
Turpel gave the annual report for Nebraska City EMS, which answered over 1,000 calls in 2012 with three full-time and six part-time paramedics, as well as six paid technicians and other volunteers.
Turpel said EMS is becoming more firefighter orientated.
He said 19 active members are trained for both fire and EMS response, compared to about six crosstrained members four years ago. The firefighters responding to rescue calls means quicker response times and less time at the scene. On Dec. 20 this year, EMS answered three calls in succession.
By the time the duty team and firefighters reached the first call, a cardiac arrest, the second came.
Paramedic Andrew Snodgrass had finished his shift the day before, so it was his responsibility to respond to the second call.
He said firefighters from the first call were able to assist with the second call. A patient was on the way to St. Mary's Community Hospital when the third call came.
Snodgrass responded as soon as he could, but said the call was initially answered entirely by volunteers.
A heart attack victim received care in time to save her life. The volunteers responded so that the third ambulance left the station within three minutes.
EMS averaged three calls per day in 2012, but Turpel said they have had as many as eight calls. The average response time in the city is 5.1 minutes and 10 minutes in the county.
Turpel also credited Nebraska City police for responding to rescue calls.
"We don't recognize them enough for what they do for us on EMS calls," he said.
He said there are three police officers and three deputies with the Otoe County Sheriff's Office who have EMS training.
EMS answered 89 fewer calls compared to the previous year, which Turpel credited to some slow months.
He said EMS's revenue projections are based on about 80 calls per month, but last December there were about 40. The busiest month had 115 calls.
The EMS this year is about $30,000 short.
After Turpel's report, city commissioners voted to adjust rescue rates with base charges up to $1,000 per response.
Fire Chief Alan Viox said the integration of firefighters to EMS duty is ahead of schedule.
He asked city commissioners to finance an EMS assessment that could open the door for countywide or regional rescue services.
City Administrator Joe Johnson said rescue districts similar to the existing rural fire districts could be established.
Turpel said 65 percent of the transfers calls are from St. Mary's Community Hospital in Nebraska City, but the squad did answer six calls from Syracuse.
In his report, Turpel also noted Nebraska City's success at the Creighton EMS Regional Championships for the second year in a row.