Southside school now doubles as ambulance substation - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Southside school now doubles as ambulance substation

SOUTHSIDE, AR (KAIT) – Seconds matter when an emergency happens, so to cut down response times, an ambulance service in Batesville has opened a substation outside town.

Where Vital Link EMS decided to put the substation may seem like an unlikely choice, though.

The ambulance company agreed to station two employees at Southside High School to better serve the southern end of Independence County. Seeing an ambulance outside the school for the past three weeks, however, has resulted in a few worried phone calls to the superintendent's office.

"We had a few questions on the front end why there was an ambulance located in front of our school," Superintendent Roger Rich said. "Now, they've been able to see they're here not only during the school, but they're here on the weekends as well."

Rich said people have now welcomed the sight of the ambulance knowing that the high school serves as a substation for Vital Link. This idea came after administrators looked for another way to partner with the local community.

"We have nurses on our campus that do a great job," Rich said. "We have our health clinic [ARCare] close, too, but these people are trained to handle emergencies in a very quick time frame. I feel great to have them here, and I feel great for people on the southern part of the county that we can take care of them in a very quick response time."

Vital Link agreed to open the substation in Southside to better serve the area south of White River where about a third of the ambulance calls in Independence County originate.

"We look at response times," said Karen Ryan, the CEO of Vital Link. "That's very important as far as outcomes on patient well-being and so anything we can do to cut those response times is huge, and this has allowed us to decrease those times."

In addition to creating faster emergency response times, the school hopes the close tie to the ambulance service now will open up different educational opportunities for students.

"They also will help us in our medical professions class that we have here on our campus," Rich said. "They'll help us as guest instructors in our health classes. Anything health-related, they could be a benefit on our campus to our kids."

Ryan said this opportunity could serve as an excellent recruiting tool for her company as well. She said there's a shortage right now of EMTs and paramedics, so she hopes to get more students interested in this particular career field.

"We want to put a face on that term EMT, that term paramedic so that the students can see it is a true profession out there, a very important profession," Ryan said. "If they're interested in it, we would surely take the opportunity to visit them about the education that's needed and what happens after that."

Ryan is unsure what might happen to the partnership between Vital Link and Southside schools in the future, but said everything is working smoothly just three weeks into this new arrangement.

"I'm sure we'll adjust and make some changes for the better," she said. "We want to do good things for the school and for the community, so anything we can do to improve our services, we'll do."

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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