Houston county EMTs forced to call hospital before transporting patients

(Photo: WKRN)

HOUSTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Houston County EMTs were handed guidelines this week that affect how and where ambulances can transport a patient.

Now, emergency workers are required to call the local hospital first before taking a patient to an area with high-level care.

“It’s taking time out of their treatment, especially when you’re trying to work on someone who’s been involved in a motor vehicle collision,” said Stephen Graybill, the Houston County Interim Director of Emergency Medical Services. He said calling a doctor takes away from the patient.

County Commissioner George Jeram, who helped pass the policy, disagrees. “On the way into the van and so forth, the EMT is calling the doctor saying, ‘what should we do?'”

Graybill helped write the policy, but said the county commission wanted it.

News 2 asked Commissioner Jeram why, and he said EMTs should call a doctor before making the decision on where to transport a patient.

When asked if he trusts EMTs, Jeram said, “I trust them to take the vitals, to do what they’re taught to do and to contact a doctor ASAP to find out what’s going on.”

Houston County’s hospital doesn’t have a trauma center or perform surgeries, so it’s sometimes necessary to transport patients an hour and a half away to Vanderbilt University Medical Center or to another hospital.

Graybill said the EMTs and paramedics are properly trained to decide where patients should go, and that this policy is putting peoples’ lives in jeopardy.

The policy does not state that an EMT isn’t equipped to make the decision which hospital a patient should go to but in the document it does say, “Houston County EMS has a limited number of ambulances running daily.”

News 2 asked Jeram if the limited number of ambulances was the reason for the policy and he said it is, but the other is that that only doctors should make the call on where a patient should go.

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