LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A weekend house fire in Lamar County that injured a man still has county leaders searching for answers regarding response times for ASAP Ambulance Service, and why an air-ambulance was never used.
Around 9 p.m. Saturday, firefighters responded to a fully-involved house fire on Martin Luther King Drive in Purvis. Firefighters arrived on scene and paged an ASAP ambulance, which has led to questions from county supervisors.
"We are looking further into these times, we are looking further into other details that's come available to us, and at the appropriate time, we will be making some decisions on which direction that we will be going to make sure the tax payers of this county are kept safe," said Dale Lucus, District 5 supervisor.
The first unit to arrive on scene was around 9:10 p.m., within four minutes, and that first responder radioed for ASAP.
That person suffered from second and third-degree burns, and was taken from Forrest General Hospital to a burn center.
ASAP officials dispute previous reports of the response time being an hour.
County dispatch logs list the specifics:
- Dispatched: Saturday Feb. 20 21:13:28 - 9:13:28 p.m.
- En Route: Saturday Feb 20 21:18:11 - 9:18:11 p.m.
- On Scene: Saturday Feb 20 22:13:57- 10:13:57 p.m.
According to ASAP officials, they had three trucks (ambulances) in the county, all that were responding to separate 911 calls. The truck that arrived on scene in Purvis came from Jones County.
Multiple requests for an air ambulance were requested by personnel on scene, including Lamar County Fire Coordinator George Stevens.
Radio traffic shows around 9:16 p.m. an air ambulance was requested. From that time until 9:56 p.m. Rescue 7 and LifeFlight are both mentioned.
LifeFlight was on another mission, Rescue 7 was sitting on standby waiting to launch.
Radio traffic showed a personal call that took place between fire personnel on scene and an ASAP employee.
This is one of the things supervisors are trying to figure out what was said, and again, why the helicopter was never launched.
"It seems that that's not sufficient, either that's not an efficient number of ambulances, or they were deployed in a manner that didn't serve Lamar County," County Administrator Jody Waits said.
The contract with ASAP dates back to February 2000. Due to complaints and other issues, District 5 Supervisor Lucus made a motion during a 2006 board meeting to remove the ambulance service from the county. It was not passed.
"We have a fine first-responder team here in all of our fire departments, we were looking at some of our numbers at some of the departments, they did over 1,100 medical calls this past year, when you say that times 10 or 11 departments we are doing a lot of medical calls," Lucus said.
Lucas said he wants the community to know that if there is an emergency, the fire departments are equipped to respond, and that it will be handled, the supervisors just have to work out the specifics for an ambulance to respond with fire personnel.
County officials said this incident is isolated, however it is not the first complaint they have received, in regards to ASAP.
""You know when people call 911, they need you there now, it's not come when you can, and we don't get extra credit for same day service, so we want to make sure all the parts of that system work," Waits said.
Multiple supervisors are reviewing the contract, and are seeking input from experts for what can best suit the county.
"Forty minutes or an hour, either one that's too long, you know there is a window that EMS responds to, that the further you are beyond that window, the more difficult it is to save your life, what we need is to support that with a life support ambulance that can take over with advanced options," Waits said.
There has not been an agenda item added at this time for the next supervisors meeting, however several supervisors are confident the issue will be discussed.