Initial findings presented in Beaufort Co. EMS study

WASHINGTON N.C. (WNCT) – The initial findings in a study examining the state of EMS service in Beaufort County were presented to commissioners Monday night.

The Polaris Group was hired by the county a few months ago to recommend changes and see where EMS service could be improved.

“Financing, we’re looking at response times, we’re looking at many different factors. How units are being dispatched,” said John Flemming, Beaufort County’s EMS Director.

The study presented the county 27 recommendations. Among them, was adding an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance in Bath, and quick response vehicles to service Pinetown, Pantego and Pamilico Beach, and another to serve Blounts Creek.

The study also recommended the county establish countywide billing for EMS services.

These recommendations come as a relief for some EMS personnel. Shane Grier with Chocowinity EMS said if they have to respond to a call in Blounts Creek, it can take up to an hour before the patient reaches a hospital.

“You know it’s not about us, it’s about covering the citizens of Beaufort County, especially in our service area,” Grier said.

He said time is critical in some calls.

“We’re in about 6 percent where people actually need a paramedic, and that 6 percent is a life or death.”

The recommended changes won’t necessarily mean high taxes, however. The county is already looking at improving their billing system.

“The payer source can be Medicare, Medicaid, private insurances, or in some cases, self pay. So we’ll recover some of those costs,” Flemming said.

There is no timetable for when these changes will be implemented.

On Wednesday, Vidant Health presented the county $500,000 to help improve EMS services.

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