More EMS staff provides better coverage for Aiken County

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — County leaders say EMS problems of the past in Aiken County are over thanks to new options.

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“We had a real problem about eight months ago,” Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian.

More ambulances are on the road in Aiken County providing service when residents really need it the most. “Now we’re running about nine or 10 trucks every day,” Killian said.

That wasn’t the story a few months back. “We were at one point 21 vacancies, which was almost an entire shift,” Killian recalled.

EMS worker shortages were causing something called status zeros. “Which means when a call comes in, there is no unit available to go. They were all tied up all calls and that included our private partners,” he said.

This is something those in the emergency medical field don’t want. “We’re running about 20,000 calls a year. The number of calls we get it’s not going to be completely unusual to have a status zero but we were having way too frequently,” he added.

Number of status zeros by date in June 2021

The vacancies are now almost non-existent thanks to salary increases and more training.

“If somebody is paying another 30% more than what we were paying, then, of course, it’s hard not to take that money to give your family a step up,” Quality Officer Cindy Blystone.

Most of the calls are handled by Aiken County EMS. The others are handled by SouthStar, Gold Cross, and ARS. In the month of June, between 9-10 were handled by the county each day. Less than three we handle by the others.

Number of EMS units by date in June 2021

As far as recruitment efforts, the department will hold a basic EMT class. It takes about five or six most goes through that class. “The department recognized a need in the community for having more EMS professionals because nationally and statewide, there is a shortage of EMS people. So we partnered with the South Carolina Fire Academy and now we have a place for them upstairs in our training room,” she added.

With 10 stations around the county, all were fully staffed this week. “We’re in much better shape than we were,” Killian added.


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