LEE COUNTY, S.C. — Lee County Emergency Medical Services is upgrading its communication system in hopes of improving emergency response times. EMS use this equipment to get information about what it's responding to.
First responders communicate with each other and with 9-1-1 dispatchers to understand what emergency they're facing. Now, their communication system will be upgraded thanks to a grant from Duke Energy Foundation.
“We just want to make sure that when calls come to 911, that that information gets directly to our emergency responders so they can get to the scene as quickly as possible and assist the community members in whatever needs that they have," Lee County Administrator Alan Watkins said.
Alan says it's "critical" that first responders are prepared for what they will see when they respond to a call. They need to know what to expect, and having spotty reception can be a problem.
Thankfully, Watkins said Lee County EMS won't have to worry about that. The grant money it received will go toward enhancing their communication system.
“Everybody knows, the more information that you can get when you receive the call initially, you go ahead and start preparing what you think may be going on at the scene," said EMS and 9-1-1 Director Tim Dubose. "So it gives you time to more prepare to know what you’re walking into.”
EMS Assistant Director Matt Makela says this will help the crew focus on what matters: the patients.
“The less you have to worry about outside that patient care or that scene and safety issues, the less likely there would be of an incident or an accident.”
Not only will this help first responders on a daily basis, but Dubose says it will also help residents get ahold of help quicker instead of having to call multiple times.
“Hopefully they’ll see a quicker response time because they don’t have to page that second time," Dubose said.
While these improvements will be helpful, Watkins says there wasn't necessarily a big issue to begin with. The spotty reception occurred in only some areas of the EMS headquarters.
Over the next few months, Lee County EMS plans to expand the headquarters. Having more reliable, stronger connection will help with this expansion, Watkins says. It also will ensure the responders have a back-up if the system were to go down during a storm.
The communication system improvements will begin in the next 30-45 days and will be finished in three to six months.