10/09/06 — County non-emergency transport receives good response

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County non-emergency transport receives good response

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on October 9, 2006 1:47 PM

After WayneNET's first full month in operation, non-emergency transport calls continue to increase as the new organization begins to serve chronically ill patients, officials said.

WayneNET began in August as a non-emergency transport service for county residents who are unable to drive to their doctor's appointments or hospital visits, WayneNET coordinator James Gray said. The organization received 65 calls during September, with more growth expected in the coming months.

WayneNET also reduces the volume of non-emergency calls that the private company, Johnston Ambulance Service, has to answer, said Blair Tyndall, manager of the county Emergency Medical Services Department.

At one time, the county had two private ambulance services in operation to handle non-emergency calls, but one, Convalescent Transports, went out of business. WayneNET provides the county and its residents with a second option again, Tyndall said.

WayneNET employees strictly handle non-emergency calls. The county has nine vehicles with trained personnel who can handle emergency situations. If those vehicles are unaccessible, a WayneNET response team can be called to an emergency.

"We try to keep them separated, but it's like having two horses that can do the same thing and not riding one of them," Tyndall said.

If a WayneNET response team arrives to an emergency and a victim is going into a full cardiac arrest, a WayneNET employee can administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation and wait for another paramedic team to administer drugs and treatment, Tyndall said.

Although WayneNET employees are state-trained in life-saving skills, any emergency must be handled by an emergency paramedic or shift supervisor for legal purposes, Tyndall said.

Although WayneNET employees don't receive as much money as their emergency paramedic counterparts, Tyndall said the turnover rate has been low.

WayneNET employees receive the same hourly pay as trained county paramedics. The only difference in pay is that paramedics are on 24-hour shifts, Tyndall said.

Since the program began, he said only one employee has left WayneNET, but it was for an opening with the county's emergency paramedics unit.

WayneNET uses two ambulances for non-emergency transports from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The county charges patients who qualify for the rate set by the federal government as Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. That rate allows the organization to operate off its profits instead of taxpayers' dollars, Tyndall said.

The WayneNET ambulances are stationed at the rescue building on Madison Avenue and are available to county residents who qualify for transportation. WayneNET also has a wheelchair van available for residents who don't qualify for the ambulances.

Wayne County residents wishing to use WayneNET's services can call 705-1956 to set up an appointment.