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Emergency Services Director: ‘There Is No Easy Fix’

At right, John Griffith, county emergency services director, discusses the problem with ambulance transport wait times in north county hospitals during a Chautauqua County Legislature Public Safety meeting Wednesday. Griffith said the wait for an ambulance transport to leave the hospital can be as long as six hours. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

MAYVILLE — Most emergency services personnel are more worried about how long it takes to transport a patient to a hospital during an emergency.

However, because the wait time for an available transport for someone leaving the hospital is becoming so long, a new problem has arisen for public safety officials.

On Wednesday, John Griffith, county emergency services director, discussed the problem with ambulance transport wait times in north county hospitals during a Chautauqua County Legislature Public Safety meeting. He said the wait time can be as long as six hours to transport someone because no transportation services are available at times. He added it is especially a problem after 5 p.m. when there are fewer transportation services available.

“There is no easy fix,” he said.

Griffith said George Borrello, county executive, has already meet with north county hospital officials about the situation. He said another meeting is being planned to include all hospitals and adult care facilities to discuss the problem again.

He added that no date or time has been set, but the meeting should be held within the next month.

The committee’s discussion turned to the lack of volunteers for fire departments in the county. Griffith said there are 39 volunteer departments and they are all facing a shortage of volunteers.

“It’s not going to correct itself anytime soon,” he said.

The committee’s discussion then turned to the upcoming 2020 budget for the emergency services department. Griffith said he has requested funding in his department’s budget for a fourth mobile emergency medical services vehicle, which are also known as “fly-cars.” He said year-to-date, the car located in Sheridan has answered 770 calls, the one in Mayville has answered 848 calls and the one in Falconer has responded to 1,489 calls. He added the one in Falconer has answered substantially more calls because it’s located in a more heavily populated area.

Griffith said he would like to locate a fourth car in Ashville to help lower the number of calls the Falconer car is responding to so all four locations have a more evenly distributed amount. He never dreamed that in two years of the fly-car program that the program would be responding to so many calls.

“There is a real need for it,” he said.

Fly-cars are equipped with cardiac monitoring equipment, pain medication and anticonvulsant medication, among other equipment. The vehicles are positioned to respond to calls in rural areas and the metro area, if needed. The fly-car system was established to provide swift response to 911 calls while supporting volunteer fire service and Alstar EMS. The program started in August 2017.

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