Highland County Emergency Medical Response – Part 1

The path to a hybrid response system for medical emergencies in Highland County has not always been smooth or pleasant, but fortunately some of the bumps on that path have smoothed recently.

A committee was formed, consisting of the leaders of the three major players, Highland County Emergency Medical Services, the Highland County Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Bolar Volunteer Rescue Squad, to facilitate improvements to the relationships and service. I recently spoke with two members of that committee, Carl Williams, Chief of Highland EMS, and Paul Trible, President of the Highland County Volunteer Rescue Squad, to find out more.

Mr. Trible:

“The best thing I could say is that there was a change in leadership at HCMS and when that change occurred, you know, we reached out to Carl, and once we sat down and kind of talked through some of the things that were going on, we decided what we needed to focus on was not what agency was doing what, but responding to calls and working together, and so far that’s what we have done.”

Mr. Williams:

“Like you said, there was a lot of things that were going on prior to things getting smoothed over – you know,  it was something that needed to be taken care of. One of the biggest things was communication, I think that was a lot of the issue and nobody’s fault of their own. But it’s just, you have different people and agencies trying to work together. It’s hard to kind of get communication going. So we had to kind of open communication and then then Paul and I got together to start that process.”

“It’s something that, you know, we want to lay the groundwork together of what we were hoping to see in the future and then working towards that. And I think we have done very well with that. We’re definitely talking, we’re definitely sharing ideas back and forth, and especially with Bolar – also Bolar Rescue Squad, they’re definitely involved in this also.”

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure the person that calls 911 is taken care of. And it takes everybody’s effort to make sure that that happens. And I think we’ve done well and I’m looking forward to the future.”

“Yeah, just to add on to that a little bit, Carl just shared some information with me this morning. We just had our monthly meeting, and we are getting an ambulance on scene in an average of just a little over 16 minutes, which is just phenomenal in this tiny little rural county that is spread out. So we’re getting a much more robust response, and often we’re getting someone to the scene before the ambulance gets there with our fast response units. So people are getting a much better service, I think, than they were getting before.”

“And a lot of that has to do with how we’re operating versus the way things operated before, and that’s not to disparage anyone in the past but we’re doing some things differently with the focus on getting someone to the person as quickly as possible, the person that called 911.”

“You know, 16 minutes is pretty phenomenal. I think anybody who lives in this county, most people have a 16-minute drive just to get to Monterey, unless you live in Monterey. So if you’re in McDowell and we’re getting an ambulance to you at 16-18 minutes, that’s a really good thing.”

Stay tuned for more of our conversation.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

Current Weather