Collier leaders want to hold meeting to bring EMS, fire departments together

— 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.

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Comments » 2

mensrea writes:

Perhaps they can discuss who at NCH should be charged with depraved indifference!

ajm3s writes:

Will there be a medical doctor to oversee a discussion between fire management and commissioners about medical protocol and certification requirements? Florida has a national reputation as a great place for doctor shopping for prescription drugs. I hope this is not the beginning of commissioners and fire districts to do the same by seeking there own medical directors for certification.

Because in my world I like medical protocols and certification requirements under the direction of a medical director not a fire chief, or for that matter county commissioners. And adding more medical directors for municipalities does not offer an efficient means to administer emergency resources. It will lead to additional costs with no incremental change to care.

Unless, you like your diagnosis under the review of commissioners rather than trained physicians. To further erode the doctor patient relationship by now including fire personnel, with the added expense of fire district territorial wars.

And folks, remember, firefighters' job responsibility if first and foremost as a firefighter. And EMS as on-site medical treatment. Do not confuse responsibilities, because it could be life-threatening.

Remember not all fire personnel sent to a scene are equally certified, and there is a reason for that: they have not met the level of responsibility as dictated by certification and job description. Unless, you like your medical care under complete supervision of a fire chief.

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