This is the Daily News special report, "Emergency?"
NAPLES — The last year has been somewhat difficult for emergency medical services in Collier County.
In October, a mishandled emergency call on Marco Island was the result of failed communication between NCH Healthcare staff, dispatch officers and Collier EMS staff.
Earlier this year, two medical calls in Naples were met with long ambulance response times, in part because fire and EMS agencies weren't communicating over the radio. One of the calls turned fatal after EMS arrived.
Now, Collier County commissioners have decided it is time to talk about ways to improve service for county residents.
Commissioners Jim Coletta and Donna Fiala have asked that commissioners have a discussion Tuesday to consider the possibility of a workshop in January between the commissioners, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the fire chiefs of North Naples Fire Department, the city of Naples Fire Department and the city of Marco Island Fire Department.
The January workshop would look at the potential issuing of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity — given by the commissioners to qualified patient transport providers to provide Advanced Life Support services — to the three fire departments for pre-hospital emergency medical transport.
"I hope this will be an educational thing. I want to have a discussion about how we will handle emergency responses in the future," Coletta said. "We need to get all of the players in the same room. We need to make sure we have a cohesive plan and not leave any area at a disadvantage."
Many of the issues involved were reported on Sunday by the Daily News in a special 8-page section in a report called: "Emergency?"
Under the county's current model, EMS and ambulance service is run through Collier County government under the license of county Medical Director Dr. Robert Tober, who reports to the County Commission.
Through agreements, the Collier County Sheriff's Office and the various fire districts and municipal fire departments assist with on-scene medical care.
Burt Saunders, an attorney representing the North Naples Fire District, also serves as the city of Marco Island's attorney.
Saunders said Monday he asked commissioners Coletta, Fiala and Georgia Hiller to consider the workshop.
"These are very complex and critical issues to the well-being of the citizens," Saunders said. "We want to make sure (pre-hospital emergency medical treatment and transport) is done right."
Saunders said the firefighters hope the workshop can address the recommendations made to the commissioners about a year ago about pre-hospital emergency medical transport.
Those recommendations were made by a blue-ribbon panel, chaired by Geoffrey Moebius, the community liaison and past CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare System, and involved the participation of firefighters, EMS personnel, hospital emergency department physicians and the Collier Sheriff's Office.
The 32-page report recommends that, among other ideas, all pre-hospital services should be under one management structure; and that county emergency medical services should be integrated within the fire departments.
"It's about improving the quality of service and the efficiency of service," Saunders said.