Nearly half of the ambulances operated in Marion County involve transfers from one health care facility to another.
This trend and others were revealed in a detailed analysis by the Emergency Operations Register since May 1.
Initial trips to the hospital from the scene of an accident, illness or injury accounted for a slim majority of all tours – 53.3%.
Referrals from hospitals within the province to hospitals outside the province accounted for nearly a third of all operations – 32.1%.
Although such trips typically require less time in patient assessment and stabilization at the scene, they can include an additional hour or two—and sometimes more—of round-trip travel time when an ambulance is not available for emergencies within the county.
Remittances from nursing homes to hospitals — often outside of the county — accounted for 14.6% of operations.
Of all the calls monitored since May 1, 27.1% resulted in no patients being transferred.
These were false alarms, citizens who only needed help getting up after a fall, or patients who decided their medical problems didn’t justify the cost of an ambulance trip. For the most part, patients are only charged if they are hospitalized.
No Transfer calls were not counted as “runs” in the log analysis. If that were the case, they would have outnumbered hospital-to-hospital referrals by a large margin.
During the time period examined, ambulances in Marion County responded an average of 3.7 calls per day. There was no typical duration of a call. The calls took less than half an hour to several hours.
- 1.4 calls per day for accidents, injuries or illnesses that lead to a trip to the hospital.
- 1.0 calls per day did not result in a patient transfer.
- 0.9 transfers per day from hospitals within the province to hospitals outside the province.
- 0.4 transfers per day from nursing homes to hospitals, some in the province and some outside.
Late transmission can occur, on average, less than once a day. Marion County was one and a half times more likely to have a new inmate arrested and sent to prison during the same time period.
While it is impossible to say with certainty how many transfers may have been delayed because another ambulance was already out of the county, evidence has emerged of two such cases.
In both cases, the transfers took place on a non-emergency basis, without red lights and sirens.
On the other hand, there was evidence of at least one case in which multiple ambulances were out of the county at the same time, all tending to be transported or emergency transport.
The case of a heart patient on May 10 was cited as an example of the need to change policies regarding whether multiple ambulances can leave the county at the same time.
However, the case in question is not an example of that situation.
According to a log analysis of emergency messages, the transfer from St. Luke’s Hospital, Marion, to NMC Health, formerly Newton Medical Center, was the only operation involving any county ambulance during the 16-and-a-half hour period.
There was another call during that time – 7½ hours ago – but it went to a different ambulance and was canceled even before the ambulance arrived.
According to the recorded transmissions, a request from the state clearinghouse for ambulance transport was transmitted by dispatchers at 12:19 am, the ambulance recognized the page, arrived in St. Luke 10 minutes later, and departed with the patient six minutes later.
The transfer was performed as no-exit, without a red light and siren. The ambulance arrived in Newton less than an hour after the initial call and returned to its station at 2:09 a.m.
The next call for any county ambulance for a non-emergency transfer from St. Luke’s to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center was at 7:27 a.m.
This patient may have been waiting for transfer when the heart patient was transferred. However, the transfusion was not dispatched until approximately 5½ hours after cardiac transfusion had ended.