First on the scene
3/29/2017 1:05 PM
When a critical situation arises, Emergency Medical Services, or EMS, is called upon to provide out-of-hospital acute medical care. In addition to caring for and transporting patients via ambulance, EMS fits into a team
effort that includes local law enforcement, fire departments and hospitals.
San Marcos Hays County EMS serves San Marcos, Kyle, Driftwood, Dripping Springs, Henley and portions of unincorporated Hays County. “We are continually working to diversify and engage the community,” said SMHCEMS Battalion Chief Danny Ray.
SMHCEMS employees work 24-hour shifts. In an average day, calls can range from a school student who sustains a sports injury to an assault victim who has been stabbed multiple times.
“The more common situations we assist with include car accidents, patients with diabetic issues, drug-and-alcohol-related incidents and cardiac issues,” Ray said.
When EMS is called to a scene, the incident is labeled based on its severity so that EMS can adequately prepare before they arrive. From least to most serious, they are classified as follows:
• Alpha: basic support is needed
• Bravo: requires treatment, such as a sprained ankle
• Charlie: a more serious injury, such as broken bones
• Delta: most urgent (cardiac-related or breathing issues)
• Echo: fatality
• Omega: unknown
According to Ray, call volumes fluctuate with the seasons. “As days get longer, people are outside more and are therefore more likely to sustain injuries,” he said. Peak times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings because people are off of work and traffic increases.
Upon arrival at the scene, the patient is assessed and then placed onto a stretcher and transported to the hospital that is best suited for their care. Children with injuries might need unique pediatric care. Some patients have a relationship with a hospital and ask to go there. Those requests are accommodated if advisable.
“The back of the ambulance is a ‘safe place’ where we can provide immediate care to the patient,” said paramedic Tamara Jones. “We control who sees in or enters, and additional team members often work on the outside to calm upset friends and family members while we stabilize the patient.”
One of the most important tools the team carries in the ambulance is the LIFEPAK 15.
The device tracks a patient’s vitals, and if the electrocardiogram (EKG) becomes abnormal, a defibrillation treatment can be administered from the LIFEPAK 15 that delivers a dose of electric current to the heart.
The patient’s data syncs up with tablets so that a report of their condition can be easily sent to the receiving hospital.
One of the advantages that sets a smaller EMS division such as SMHCEMS apart is their ability to set unique protocols for the diverse population it serves. Procedures are written for specific situations.
SMHCISD has a vision for the future that includes maximizing their resources with mobile-integrated health care that would take their services beyond standard duties.
“Nursing homes and hospices need health care on weekends,” Ray said.
“There’s also no reason why we can’t take our training division out to train local businesses. We would also like to get to a place where we’re providing maintenance to fix wheelchairs and meet other needs in the community.”
CTMC appreciates the challenging work performed each day by these first responders.
Hays County residents can rest assured knowing that local EMS programs are growing right along with our booming population and innovating to be as efficient and responsive as possible.