Emergency services are leaning into preventative measures

Hannah Swayze • Mar 24, 2019 at 12:00 AM

In the emergency, high-energy response jobs of an Emergency Medical Services worker, prevention and preparation are key in keeping citizens of Washington County safe.

Emergency Medical Services

The Washington Co. Johnson City EMS is an agency that provides a two-tier response system with medical support and transportation for emergency and non-emergency situations.

With 12 total stations, EMS also serves the county through other programs such as the EMS Honor Guard, Paramedics in Tactical Medicine, Search and Rescue, Dive Rescue ad Recover, Swiftwater Rescue and an Employee Education Association.

Though the services EMS provides is vast, Dan Wheeley, chief of the Washington Co. Johnson City EMS, said that they are currently in the beginning stages of introducing a Community Paramedicine program. This would provide extra care to patients who have medical issues that they need help with or need to be monitored, but don’t quite qualify for home health programs.

“So patients that get discharged from the hospital, we’ll go in, we’ll follow up with them after discharge, we’ll make sure they’re getting their medicine like they’re supposed to, and they’re really set up to be successful and not have to go back to the hospital,” said Wheeley.

On the EMS side, it works as a preventative measure. The program helps by sending one person to get ahead of medical issues before they get bad, which could potentially free up ambulances for other calls.

Wheeley said the agency has already done the training for the program and hope to have it active in 6 months to a year.

“There are a lot of patients that need a little bit of help but Medicare or their insurance says you don’t fit into the model that we’re going to pay for, so this is an opportunity for us to get them that extra help,” said Wheeley.

“It’s exciting it really I think it’s going to transform EMS. There’s a lot of places doing it across the country that have huge success in it.”

Johnson City Fire Department

As with any emergency service professional, a firefighters job requires a lot planning. Before a fire truck leaves the station on a call, the drivers know what route they are going to take to get there plus alternate routes to account for unforeseen circumstances.

Training, planning and prevention are all important in a firefighter's job. And the Johnson City Fire Department is exceptional at it.

“This is a dream job for a fire chief,” Chief Jim Stables said.

The Johnson City Fire Department is an Insurance Services Office Class 1 fire department, which means it received the highest classification possible when the ISO conducted its Public Protection Classification. 

“That public protection classification give underwriters a feel of how safe the community is for wiring insurance. A class 10 is a horrible department, pretty much no fire department. Truthfully, a Class 1 is the best that it can be. This fire department is the best that it can be,” said Stables. 

The classification looks at not only the fire department’s operations, but the city’s water supply and maintenance and communications systems, which includes the 911 operations and dispatch. It is one of the less than 300 fire departments out of the 48,000 fire departments in the country to receive the Class 1 rating. 

In addition to their ISO 1 rating, the department is also working toward international accreditation under the Center for Public Excellence, a rare combination. 

“It lets the citizens know what a a great fire department they have protecting them so,” said Stables. 

“This is an initiative of everyone. It’s not just the fire chief leading this or the city manager, it’s truly a passionate thing for everyone to want to be able to do that.”