Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- Revenues are up, work place injuries are down, and Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services Director Bobby Tripp says that, for the most part, calls remained relatively steady for 2009.

Giving his annual report before the Dougherty County Commission Monday, Tripp said that the total number of calls that EMS ran in 2009 were up from 2008 to a total of 19,706 calls.

"It's been a busy year, but I think we've handled it well," Tripp said.

In total, EMS crews traveled 66,588 miles in 2009 and generated $2.9 million, an almost $300,000 increase from 2008.

On the medical side, Tripp said that complaints of chest pain and respiratory distress remain the top ailments of EMS patients.

For trauma calls, motor-vehicle accidents top the list at 8 percent of the total calls with 1,514 incidents in 2009. Falls were the next highest with 1,443 and 7.8 percent.

Tripp said that EMS improved its response times, with almost 60 percent of total incidents recording a response time of five or fewer minutes.

"That's pretty good," Commissioner Jack Stone said. "I know when you're in a bad situation a minute feels like an eternity, but getting across the county in that kind of time is a feat."

Tripp said that 2009 saw the biggest change in the department's STEMI program, which aims to reduce the time it takes to get heart patients into a catherization lab.

In 2009, the average door-to-balloon time was 86 minutes with the fastest time clocked at around 12 minutes. Prior to the program's implementation, the average time was more than 100 minutes.

"I can't say how important this is," Tripp said. "The more we can reduce the time that it takes for someone having chest pains to the time they get on the table and have the catherization done, the better the chance of survival."

Tripp also told commissioners that his department suffered only one on-the-job injury, which resulted in only two days of lost work time.

Tripp said that just a few years ago, the department was averaging 12-15 loss-of-work injuries each year. The reason for the dramatic change? Tripp credits the new automated stretchers, which use hydraulics to lift patients, taking the burden off paramedics and EMTs.