By Dustin Ensinger
In an effort to eliminate what Chief Mike Schuiling calls “frequent fliers,” he has proposed a partnership between Delaware County EMS (DCEMS) and the Council for Older Adults (COA) of Delaware County.
“Frequent fliers” are typically seniors who call 911 for non-emergencies, and who would be better served by a social service agency, according to Schuiling.
“We provide emergency medical services,” he said. “But many times we are confronted with non-emergency situations and we find ourselves kind of bound to offer treatment to an individual that doesn’t necessarily need to go to a hospital. In those circumstance many of these non-emergency situations arise from senior citizens of our county not knowing where to turn.”
Through the proposed partnership, the COA would assign a staff member to the DCEMS that would follow-up on those non-emergency medic runs to seniors to provide them with information about the services offer by the organization.
“Sometimes some of these folks don’t like to call us,” said COA Executive Director Bob Horrocks. “There is no hesitation whatsoever for these folks to call 9-1-1 to get help. We felt like this was a great opportunity to make a connection that is going to help people.”
But Delaware County Commissioner Ken O’Brien said he has concerns with the proposed program, including a lack of office space, confidentiality, a lack of authority over the COA staff member and a reluctance on the part of seniors to call 911 for fear that they could be placed in a nursing home.
“I have no doubt that this program will help many people, but I am not convinced that there won’t be others that will be hurt by it,” he said.
Horrocks, however, said his organization’s goal is to keep seniors living in their own homes. He also said a similar program has been successfully utilized in Genoa Township and the City of Delaware.
Commissioner Dennis Stapleton said he would like to talk to officials in those jurisdictions before approving a similar program county-wide.
“I think there are a lot of issues here,” he said.
The commissioners agreed to table the measure for a later date.
“It’s easy to come up with lots of reasons not to do something,” Horrocks said. “But usually when progress is made it’s because the benefits far outweigh the possibility of something going wrong.”
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.