HCFR considering changing patient policy for picking hospital during ambulance transport

WPDE file photo

Horry County Fire Rescue leaders are considering not letting patients pick which hospital they want to go to in order to save on transport time.

Horry County Fire Chief Joseph Tanner told the public safety committee Monday that paramedics commented on the transport time when someone is hurt in one part of the county and requests to go to a hospital in another part of the county.

Tanner said currently a person could hurt their ankle in Garden City and request to go to Loris.

"That would be a very very long ride," Tanner said.

The "long ride" could put that ambulance out of pocket for more than two hours, he added.

Instead, Tanner suggested taking the patient to the nearest, "most appropriate" hospital for the injury.

He says that is how they currently handle life-threatening emergencies and during big events like Bikefest and the Carolina Country Music Fest.

Mark Nugent, spokesperson for HCFR, said the idea wouldn't need to go before council if a change is made, but it could have a big impact on operations.

"It isn't a big issue, but one that if it does happen, it causes a ripple effect," he said. "Either way, we want to provide the best service they can get."

No word yet from officials on when the change could take place.

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