LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — From life and death to welfare checks, local EMS crews respond to hundreds of calls daily. But some suburban fire chiefs are concerned about the new dispatch protocol.
Starting this week, MetroSafe is changing the way EMS crews are notified.
“MetroSafe wants us to have our medical personnel do what we call in the service awake for watch,” said Harrods Creek Fire Chief Kevin Tyler.
Tyler said “awake for watch” means EMS crews working 24-hour shifts can no longer rest between calls. Instead of an alert or tone, crews will get notifications via two-way radio.
“You have to stay awake,” Tyler said. “You’re on watch to make sure that you listen to a call and you don’t miss a call that’s coming through on your radio.”
Buechel Fire Chief Adam Jones said the change was unilateral with no input from suburban fire.
“They directed us that they were going to make that change as of last Friday at 2 o’clock,” said Jones, who’s also executive president of the Suburban Fire Chiefs Association.
Tyler and Jones said the new protocol can lead a number of problems, mainly fatigue.
“They want me to take my 24-hour people now and tell them that they have to stay up and listen to the radio for those 14 hours, which negates them being able to rest in between those calls,” Tyler said. “The kicker is, now that my people have to stay up, now I am putting fatigued crews out there. I don’t have a rested crew that may be there.”
Jones said it’s not only a problem, but it’s dangerous.
“You start to lose dexterity You start to have symptoms almost like alcohol in your system after that 12 hours of wake time with no rest periods,” he said.
MetroSafe released this statement Wednesday:
“The changes put into place today concerning EMS dispatching for suburban fire agencies assures that citizen requests are answered as quickly as possible and necessary medical resources are dispatched in a timely fashion to our citizens in need. These dispatching changes were discussed with stakeholders on November 15, 2018 and are the same as those that already exist within Louisville Metro EMS. These changes will allow for improved consistency in our dispatch protocol county-wide. The Department of Emergency Services will always strive for ways to improve the way we deliver emergency medicine and our patient care process.”