Fire dept. expects slower ambulance response times with loss of hospital

Fire dept. expects slower ambulance response times with loss of hospital
Fire Chief John Mallott (Source: KAIT-TV)
Fire Chief John Mallott (Source: KAIT-TV)

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - Emotions ran high at a town hall meeting in Kennett Tuesday night as members of the city council and the community contemplated how to keep their hospital.

It's a story we've been following since Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center in Kennett announced its consolidation with Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center.

While the closure will leave several hospital personnel unemployed, it will also affect a different group of first responders.

About 6 years ago the Kennett Fire Department started a medical first responder program.

Because there were limited ambulances in the county, the fire department stepped in to fill a gap.

Fire Chief John Mallott said many people they transport have to stop at the local hospital for critical stabilization even before determining whether they need to be flown to a higher level trauma center.

With the local hospital taken out of the equation, Mallott expects paramedics will have longer durations trying to stabilize patients and longer commutes causing slower response times.

"We're still in the fire and rescue business so we have to look at the possibility of tying up a fire apparatus that has that rescue equipment longer at a scene," Mallott said. "How can we get it released but still not do patient abandonment but keep a first responder there to provide that basic medical care until that Medic One EMS and the paramedic gets there."

Mallott said his department has taken multiple advanced medical training courses that are vital to providing care in the field.

Though he didn't know just how much his department would need those skills until hearing about the hospital consolidation.

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