Marion ambulances have answered less than half of all calls to Marion addresses since June 1, according to an analysis of recorded dispatches.
Of 56 recorded calls to Marion addresses, Marion ambulances responded to just 27 while the county’s Hillsboro ambulance responded to 21, its Florence ambulance responded to 4, and its Peabody and Tampa ambulances responded to 2 each.
Conversely, the Hillsboro ambulance handled nearly all calls to Hillsboro addresses. Of 34 dispatches to Hillsboro, 27 were handled by Hillsboro ambulance, 5 by Tampa, and 2 by Peabody.
Similarly, 13 of 17 calls to Peabody addresses were handled by the Peabody ambulance, with Florence, Hillsboro, Marion, and Tampa each handling 1 call.
Likewise, Florence ambulance handled 8 of 10 calls to Florence addresses, with 1 each handled by Marion and Peabody.
No calls to Tampa addresses, where the county’s remaining ambulance is based, were recorded during the period.
The relatively low number of Marion calls handled by Marion ambulances belies the fact that Marion’s St. Luke Hospital was the No. 1 destination for patients transported by county ambulances during the period.
St. Luke received 40 patients while Newton Medical Center received 25, Hillsboro Community Hospital received 20, and various hospitals in Wichita received 19. Hospitals in McPherson, El Dorado and Herington received a total of 5, while nursing homes in Goessel and Peabody received 1 each. Transportation was not provided on 49 of the ambulance calls.
A total of 48 of the 160 calls involved transferring patients from one health care facility, including nursing homes, to another. Hillsboro ambulance handled 22 of those calls, Peabody 13, Marion 6, Tampa 5, and Florence 2.
Of the transfers, 19 originated in Marion, 15 in Hillsboro, 4 in Peabody, and 3 in Goessel.
Although no other runs were in progress, insufficient emergency medical technicians were available in Marion to handle a call to Bown-Corby Apartments at 5:39 a.m. Monday.
The caller, an employee of this newspaper, reportedly became agitated by the 20-minute delay in arriving.
Even though Hillsboro ambulance, 10 miles away, responded, enough Marion EMTs were available 2½ hours later to transfer the same patient from St. Luke to a Wichita hospital.
State regulations require two EMTs on every ambulance run even though one might only be driving .
Insufficient Marion EMTs were available to handle a call at 4:17 p.m. Saturday east of Marion Reservoir. One Marion EMT responded along with a crew of two EMTs in the Hillsboro ambulance.
Lack of EMTs was not a problem in Marion alone, however.
At 6:15 p.m. Friday, with no other ambulance runs in progress, a call from Florence was dispatched to Hillsboro ambulance, 25 miles away, because it was “the only ambulance available.”
An unidentified Florence responder ended up canceling the call, reporting that the patient would be transported by private vehicle.
Perhaps the most confusing call came at 3:25 a.m. July 5. Peabody and Florence ambulances were on other calls when a patient at Westview Manor in Peabody was initially reported by dispatchers to be unconscious but breathing and later was reported by a second dispatcher as having a pulse but not breathing.
When Tampa ambulance, more than 31 miles away, was dispatched, a Tampa EMT questioned whether the lone available EMTs in Marion and Hillsboro might be able to combine forces and get to the scene more quickly.
They did, eventually arriving in the Hillsboro ambulance 19 minutes after the call came in. By that time, however, the Peabody ambulance had returned from its earlier call and transported the patient.