RICHMOND, Ind. – Blue, green and white ambulances roll through Wayne County, lights flash and sirens sound.
Reid Health EMS began January 1 serving all of Wayne County outside of Richmond Fire Department territory in the City and Township of Wayne. This is the first year of a five-year, $1,473,450 contract Wayne County Commissioners awarded Reid last October for the county’s three ambulance districts.
Until August, the expansion from one district to three went smoothly.
“We are very pleased with Reid EMS’ performance in the first eight months of his new contract with the county,” commissioner Jeff Plasterer said. “They’re exceeding all performance metrics in their contract. It’s working well, and they have the resources and the people to make sure it works well.”
EMS director Ryan Williams de Reid and Wayne County Emergency Management Agency director Jacob Cox and Matthew Cain provided updates on commissioners at Wednesday’s weekly meeting. Reid answered 2,080 calls with an average response taking 7 minutes and 55 seconds, more than a minute below the national average of 8:59.
Cain told the stewards he was impressed. The EMS contract specifies arrival times of 15 minutes or less 90% of the time. Cain said Reid was betting 15 minutes 100% of the time.
“Reid has been very successful in serving the entire county outside of the City of Richmond and Wayne Township,” Commissioner Mary Anne Butters said. “They are beating response times beyond my expectations. There was some concern as this was a new service area, but the quick and highly skilled response serves Wayne County extremely well.”
Reid first made an offer on an ambulance service area in 2018, when commissioners initially received no offers. Others then bid, but Reid was chosen over Dublin EMS to serve the south-west segment of the county, which includes Cambridge City, Dublin, Milton and other smaller communities, for three years from 1 January 2019. Culberson served the northwest area and Red Line EMS the eastern area.
On January 1, 2021, Reid began providing Union County Ambulance Service, winning that bid in September 2020. Then last October, commissioners selected Reid for the three regions of Wayne County ahead of Red Line and Spirit EMS.
In the first three years of the contract, the county pays $285,000, the same it has paid the past three years for the three service areas. The payment increases to $304,950 in the fourth year; and $313,500 in the fifth year.
“Because of the experience with them serving the Southwest Quadrant, we knew their ability and commitment was strong, but this was new for Reid,” Butters said. “Until we saw them in action, we didn’t know how well they would perform.”
Williams said Reid had struggled growing up with rapid growth in a relatively new department. He said Reid has 11 ambulances, including five for Wayne County, at five bases staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Other bases are in Liberty and Connersville. Reid also performs non-emergency patient transfers in addition to emergency ambulance response.
Through August, the county’s Eastern District accounted for 878 EMS calls, Reid’s Home Southwest District accounted for 663 calls, and the Northwest District accounted for 419. Of Reid’s calls, 119 were included in the internal mutual aid. That means a Reid ambulance from another area — maybe in Wayne County or maybe in Union or Fayette counties — covers an ambulance that’s already busy.
“I think they did a great job,” Commissioner Ken Paust said. “They certainly did what we expected of them. Their ability to move people from place to place benefits the people of Wayne County.”
Cain said Reid has occasionally used the Richmond Fire Department to help each other and vice versa, but the frequency is “nothing alarming or remarkable to me.”
In addition to its ambulances, Reid has three other SUV response vehicles. Administrators use these vehicles to respond to serious or multiple patient incidents when additional assistance is valuable. SUVs are equipped with the same advanced life support equipment as an ambulance; however, they cannot be used to transport patients.
Cain said responding administrators take on the EMS incident command role, streamlining communication for 911 dispatchers and on-site personnel.
Reid’s average response time is divided into two parts. On average, it takes 1h54 between a dispatcher activating the EMS and the marking of the ambulance responding en route. It then takes an average of 6h01 of driving time before the ambulance arrives on the scene. The longest average travel time is the eastern sector at 7:02, with 5:56 in the northwest and 4:43 in the southwest.
Williams said the internal goal is to keep that first response under 2 minutes, including nighttime hours when crews are sleeping at their stations. If there is no answer en route within 2 minutes, the dispatcher sounds another tone.
Reid also closely monitors the time spent at the scene, Williams said. Leaving a scene and administering more needed care as the ambulance moves allows patients to get to the hospital faster.
Among his ambitions, Reid hopes to create a ground-based intensive care unit that would have a nurse on board for trips to higher-level care centers. Paust said he would like to see Reid add a cardiac unit to provide additional care during cardiac emergencies.
Reid has also developed an education program. This year, he hosted a free emergency medical response course for local volunteer firefighters and first responders. About 25 people took the course to improve their skills if they’re the first on the scene and enable them to better work with Reid’s staff as “one team,” Williams said. On August 22, another 20 people took an EMT course, and Reid would like to offer a paramedic training program.
The training programs address a challenge Reid faces: staffing. Williams said Reid could still increase by about 10 employees to his current 69. He said half of those who complete the EMT program are interested in working with Reid in some form, and the EMS program just hired two 18-year-olds who recently completed the Firefighter and EMS program. of the Richmond Fire Department offered by the Richmond High School Career Center.
Reid EMS has also made a concerted community outreach effort to build residents’ confidence when they need help. Outreach includes booths at fall festivals, reserve units at sporting events, mock crashes or public first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and bleed arrest training.
“We want to be part of the communities we find ourselves in,” Williams said.