Why EMS services in Berkeley County will not always take you to the hospital of your choice

Berkeley County News

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – Ambulances coming to your aid in Goose Creek and Berkeley County will no longer always take you to the hospital of your choice.

Battalion Chief Jared Harris with the Goose Creek Fire Department said the decision was made to keep their ambulances closer to their area of service.

“With the amount of calls that we have in the area, demand on the ambulances is a lot higher,” said Harris. “So, currently, what we’re doing is we’re going to the closest appropriate facility.”

He went on to say, “What that means is if a local hospital close to us can take care of you the same as one downtown, we’re gonna go to the local one first.”

There are two primary reasons the change had to be made.

“We have a lot of growth and we also have an increased call volume with COVID,” said Harris.

About 30% more calls are now coming in for service.

“It’s just taxing our system a lot more. When we have to go downtown, we spend the extra 30 minutes, 45 minutes going down there- that’s less ambulances available to citizens.”

A spokesperson at Trident Medical Center said dealing with the increase in patients is not as easy as hiring more people and ambulances. They have 40-50 ambulances per day dropping patients off just at Trident Medical.

last year the US had 110,953 registered certified paramedics. This year that number is at 67,497. That is a dramatic drop in available crews.

Still, if you need to go to a hospital downtown, they will take you there.

“It’s really a case-by-case scenario. There are some things that only MUSC can offer and in those cases, we will take you down to MUSC,” he said.

As a side note, if there is flooding downtown, they can still get you to the hospital you need, although they may need to take different streets to get you there due to flooding.

But in general, they believe these changes, which began in Berkeley County and the city of Goose Creek about 60 days ago, will also improve a number they are constantly trying to improve.

“It is a way we can keep more ambulances on the street so we can decrease our response time to those critical calls,” said Harris.

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