Complaints Increase for San Joaquin County EMS
Reports of mistakes, miscommunication and other problems received by the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services agency have increased by more than 4,000% since a new 911 ambulance dispatching system was adopted May 1, the Stockton Record reports. The reports are filed by hospitals, police and fire agencies, and ambulance companies when a complication arises during an emergency.
The county received 263 complaints since American Medical Response's Stanislaus County call center became the sole 911 ambulance provider for most of the county in May. Most of the reports were filed by the fire department. In 2005, the county received 15 such complaints.
Stockton Fire Chief Ron Hittle said the system has made communication between AMR paramedics and first responders from the fire department difficult. According to the Record, the agencies work on incompatible radio frequencies.
Deputy Fire Chief Carl Eck said many AMR paramedics and dispatchers are less experienced and are not familiar with the area, which results in paramedics sometimes getting lost. According to Eck, AMR has missed county response-time deadlines 1,100 times since the new system took effect.
County EMS administrator Dan Burch disputes that number and said the actual figure will be presented to the county Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks. Burch said the fire department should no longer be involved in 911 medical calls because it is not recognized by county EMS as a medical dispatcher (Kane, Stockton Record, 7/31).