Better communication and discipline are the only ways to head off over-response by emergency agencies to the scene of an accident or medical call, members of the Davis County Emergency Medical Services Council agreed Thursday.
"It's ludicrous sometimes. And hazardous," said Capt. K.D. Simpson, supervisor of the paramedic program of the Davis County Sheriff's Office. "I counted 27 response vehicles at one car rollover in Clearfield."Council members agreed to begin writing guidelines on which agencies should respond to emergencies, based on the type and seriousness of the call and equipment that may be needed.
But the council members also agreed that individual police and fire agencies have to exert more control on their members, preventing them from responding to situations they haven't been dispatched to or that are out of their territory.
"It's human nature. I've been a cop and I know how it goes. You're out there driving around for three or four hours, you've had no calls, and you're bored," Sheriff Harry Jones said. "So you hear about something out on the freeway and you go, whether it's in your jurisdiction or not."
The issue was raised by mayors in the county two weeks ago at the Davis Council of Governments meeting, questioning the sheriff about what they perceived to be the overlapping role of his department's paramedics and emergency medical technicians from fire and police agencies.
Some of the fire chiefs at Thursday's council meeting indicated their mayors came from that COG meeting and questioned them and police chiefs, about their department response policies.
Simpson said the situation in some respects has worsened since the advent of first responder programs. Under the first responder concept, technicians respond to to emergencies using fire or police vehicles equipped with medical kits.
The agencies don't have their own ambulance service, relying on the ambulances operated by the sheriff's department or another agency, but send their own technicians in addition to those manning the ambulances and the sheriff's department paramedics.
Simpson said the county's dispatchers don't directly control which agencies, or how many, respond to an emergency call. In notifying the agency that has jurisdiction, other agencies sometimes pick up on the calls and also respond, Simpson said.
"That's where discipline comes in and that's a political issue," Simpson said. "We've got agencies or individuals responding to situations where they haven't been called. That costs the city, whether they're a volunteer fire department that bills the city back for the response or a fulltime agency, where it's the cost of the equipment. But it costs the cities and when the mayors realize that, maybe we can solve the problem."
"There should be protocols at every level to provide the best possible patient care at the lowest cost," said Layton Fire Chief Allan Peek. South Davis Fire District Chief Brent Argyle agreed.