After tabling the discussion of a new fire dispatch system last month, Camdenton Aldermen got right down to business at their March meeting. Alderman John McNabb opened up the discussion by telling the rest of the board that he had already spoken to Sheriff Franklin and Sergeant Edwards about the proposed new dispatching system. Without consulting the full board, the fire chief, fire board and mayor, McNabb recommended that the city not change to the new dispatch system.
"After some discussion, I was able to convince them that the city is a different animal than fire districts," McNabb said.
Many lake area fire districts are wanting to move to a prioritized EMS dispatching system. Chief Scott Frandsen of Mid County Fire Protection District drafted up the new guidelines with the objective "to provide an improved method for dispatching of resources to emergency medical emergencies and to eliminate dispatching of resources to incidents that they are not needed at."
The goal of the new system is to not send responders when they are simply not needed. When a caller places a 911 call into the Camden County communications center, the operator will immediately find out where the caller is calling from, the name of the caller and the caller's phone number and will then transfer to Mercy for triage. If the caller indicates that the call is critical, the operator can dispatch the appropriate fire unites without waiting for full triage. A critical call could be one of the following: unconsciousness confirmed or cardiac arrest, chest pain or heart attach, uncontrolled bleeding from injuries, stroke, breathing problems, childbirth including broken water, gunshot or stabbing, burns, electrocution or lightning, drowning including near drowning, carbon monoxide poisoning- sick or symptoms present and motor vehicle boating accident with injuries or injuries unknown.
The majority of Camdenton Aldermen are leery of the change. For Mayor Dennis North, his concern is that residents move to the city and expect to have city services.
Alderman Steve Eden of Ward II seemed to be the only person on the board curious about trying the new dispatch system.
"I think we ought to at least try it for a trial period," Eden said. "I feel like we may be missing an opportunity her to save money."
Eden mentioned that he had received complaints from volunteer firefighters that had been called out and had nothing to do once they got there. He also said that the new system could help lower vehicle and fuel costs, could save on wear and tear of fire apparatus, less chance of an accident if they are called out less and a chance of lower dispatch fees.
Alderman Sandy Osborne openly disagreed with Eden by saying, "This can't be about saving money, it must be about saving lives."
Page 2 of 2 - Eden agreed but asked why was the fire department called out for calls such as a resident exemplifying flu symptoms.
Camdenton Fire Chief Drew Stark said that another issue with moving to the new system would be transporting patients from their homes to an ambulance. Many times firefighters aid in transport if needed. Questions such as the patient's weight and distance to carry are not asked over the phone and many times are not found out until responders arrive on scene. If extra help is needed, with the new system, the patient would have to wait longer than needed.
After a short discussion, McNabb made a motion per Mayor North's request to keep Camdenton Fire Department's dispatch methods as they are and not change to the new prioritized system. With a five to one vote, the motion passed.