Pinellas County commissioners recognized the EMS Professionals of the Year May 9, including Emergency Medical Dispatcher of the Year Richard Sherman, Paramedic of the Year David Sims and Emergency Medical Technician of the Year Reilly Nolan.
CLEARWATER – Pinellas County commissioners will join the rest of the national in declaring May 21-27 as Emergency Medical Services Week. As a prelude, the 2017 EMS Professionals of the Year were announced during the May 9 meeting.
Paramedic of the Year is David Sims, an employee of Sunstar Paramedics for almost nine years. He currently serves as an assistant supervisor and field training officer. Another Sunstar employee, Reilly Nolan is Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. His job as a safety officer involves teaching and promoting safety procedures. Richard Sherman, 911 Telecommunicator, is the Emergency Medical Dispatcher of the Year. He works as a paramedic assistant supervisor at Sunstar.
EMS Week is celebrated each May by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The theme of this year’s celebration is “EMS Strong: Always in Service.”
The focus on emergency medical services continued as Dr. David Weiland, chairman of the EMS Advisory Council, updated the commission with the latest information about the county’s EMS system. The advisory council’s job is to study and analyze procedures and protocols and make recommendations to the EMS Authority, which is the responsibility of the county commission, of any action needed to ensure a high level of services.
Weiland reported that the EMS system is continuing to have increases in demand for service, including first responder responses and ambulance transports. The county experienced a 4.5 percent increase in 2014, 6.3 percent in 2015 and 5.9 percent increase in 2016.
The busiest fire departments in the county include St. Petersburg with a 40 percent increase in calls for service from 2010 to 2016, followed by Clearwater with a 28 percent increase, Largo up 62 percent increase, Pinellas Park with a hike of 36 percent, Lealman with 56 percent more calls, and Seminole with a 26 percent increase.
A number of fire and EMS system improvements are now complete, Weiland said. Two peak time medic units have been deployed, as well as 10 basic support ambulances. In addition, stretcher vans have been implemented by five wheelchair providers. Steps have been taken to prepare the county for active shooter incidents, and technical rescue agreements are in place. Standardized medical equipment bags are available countywide. He went over improvements in progress, which include provider wellness, and water rescue and water extrication capabilities.
A “data driven” focus group with fire chiefs and county staff is on its second year of work to create standardized performance metrics, maps and analysis.
Weiland said maintaining response times and service levels continues to be the advisory council’s main goal, as well as ensuring sustainability of the workload of crews in the field.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved two countywide plan amendments requested by the city of Pinellas Park.
• Approved one of two requests to vacate rights-of-way from A.D. Morris Properties. Commissioners said yes to the vacation request for 34th Street. They did not approve the request on Haines Road in part due to objections from the Florida Department of Transportation.
• Approved a resolution approving issue of Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds not to exceed $8.2 million on behalf of SP Trail LLC to provide financing for the acquisition, construction, and equipping of an 80-unit residential rental facility to be known as Woodlawn Trail Apartments in Clearwater.
• Approved proceeding with a legal case on behalf of Animal Services against Devonte Harvey due to the “deplorable conditions” of animals, which have been seized by Animal Services.
• Agreed to put the request from the American Craftsman Museum for Tourist Development tax funds on the May 23 agenda.
• Discussed the potential of joint meetings with Hillsborough County.