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Audit: ACEMS suffers from ‘lack of resources’

The Anderson County Emergency Medical Services (ACEMS) enlisted Fitch & Associates to conduct an audit of the operational and financial performances of the County’s Emergency Medical Services.

The audit focused on the current operational model, revenue generation and expenses.

The report compared ACEMS to 50 specific benchmarks of an optimal EMS system and to similar agencies in the region.

The audit found the ACEMS has not been provided adequate resources, specifically vehicles, personnel, station infrastructure and funds to fulfill current missions.

5 out of the 6 ACEMS stations are inadequate, and in some instances, unsafe.

Also stated is that personnel are difficult to attract and retain due to low salaries, poor working conditions and high workloads.

It stated that ACEMS is fighting a valiant, but likely unwinnable battle to remain financially and operationally viable as a self-funding entity. It is likely that ACEMS will require additional funding from the county for the foreseeable future.

ACEMS is the sole ambulance provider in Anderson County, and as such, handles both calls for emergency medical assistance, as well as the non-emergent movement of patients throughout the healthcare system whenever ambulance transport is required.

Critical findings in the report were that the ambulance fleet was aging. The units have excessive mileage and they do not meet basic operational safeguards and design specifications.

Critical ambulance failures, those that happen during response to a call or during patient transport, occur at three-times the rate deemed acceptable in the EMS community.

Another critical finding in the report was that essential medical equipment, such as cardiac monitors, are out of date and do not provide good clinical data to paramedics attending emergency patients.

The report states that the means to fund capital investments in the ACEMS must be found.

Revisions to the ACEMS system have been divided into 3 different ways forward: the current model, a two-divisional model or a 9-1-1 only model.

Additionally, a level of priority is assigned to different steps.

For example, replacing the ambulance fleet and essential medical equipment is listed as critical.

While things like contract negotiations and other smaller day-to-day operations are listed high, medium or low priority.

The report stated that no one person or decision is responsible for ACEMS’s current financial situation and no one person or decision can resolve all of the issues noted in the report. It will take a concerted and long term effort involving the commitment of county leadership and the community to develop and agree upon goals and strategies in order to improve Anderson County’s Emergency Medical Service’s system.