Johnson City (TN) Delays Funding for EMS Equipment

Washington County/Johnson City Emergency Medical Services feel an upgrade is due — asking for equipment that will cut down response times when minutes, even seconds, matter most.

Currently, the average emergency response time for the county/city is eight minutes.

Washington County leaders are on board, but one the city’s end, there’s a holdup in funding the project.

The equipment is basically just a GPS system, one that all can agree will help response times, but a decision to turn down the nearly $94,000 funding request for the second time at last night’s city commission meeting, brought up concerns for Washington County/EMS Executive Director Dan Wheeley.

Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), is a dispatch system that tracks all responding units based on their GPS location, then recommends dispatch based on who is closest to the call.

 The current system breaks up dispatch by zones, which are based on station locations. The problem is, with the number of calls Washington County/Johnson City EMS runs, units often aren’t in their stations – they’re on the road. Wheeley said because of that, there’s times the closest unit may not actually be the one dispatched.

“It helps us get the right resources to you as quickly as possible. We don’t have to worry about a unit driving a longer distance to respond to that call when we have one that may be closer to that,” Wheeley.

In order to implement the $232,171 system, it’s going to take a joint effort.

Wheeley said the system is geared toward improving both city and county response times, but will likely benefit the city more because of the higher call-volume. He said AVL will take at least six months to a year to implement.

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