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HCFR changes the way they respond to medical calls

(WPDE)

After we reported on countless paramedics who told us they were so overworked they thought it could be deadly to patients, the county is overhauling the 9-1-1 system.

Now paramedics will not go to every call.

You have heard of EMT's and paramedics, but you might not know that they are different.

An emergency medical technician is trained to do basic emergency response, while a paramedic has more in depth training to deal with more life threatening situations.

Horry County Fire Rescue is trying to send paramedics out less so that they can be available for more life threatening calls.

For decades, a paramedic would go to every medical call Horry County dispatch got.

This meant paramedics working overtime and going to calls an emergency medical technician could handle.

Now dispatch is answering calls in a different way.

"They go through a vetting process in the 9-1-1 center. If you've ever had to call 9-1-1, they start asking questions."said Mark Nugent, public information officer for Horry County Fire Rescue.

There are three fire stations testing this new model.

Dispatch seperates basic life support calls, like a broken arm, and advanced life support calls, like a heart attack.

"Out of the 344 callls, 300 of them needed a BLS provider. Only 44 needed a paramedic," said Nugent.

"It saves us time, it saves us funding and it provides better emergency medical services to the citizens in this county," said Al Allen, chairman of the Horry County Public Safety committee.

This means paramedics are back at the station, ready for a call that could be critical.

"We've increased the likelihood of a paramedic being available for a true, advanced life support call by 83 percent," said Nugent.

"It will free up the more experienced and trained advanced life support paramedic so that he or she can be available to respond to other calls that may actually need advanced life support," said Allen.

The county is not exactly low on paramedics, they're only short two, but decided to try the new model to make sure the paramedics they do have are not overworked.

"It will free them up so that they are able to return to the station and have a better resting environment so that they can prepare to better respond to the next call," said Allen.

They're 19 days in to this trial and plan to collect more data before implementing it county-wide.

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