Redmond EMS History
Floyd County, Georgia is one of the largest counties in Georgia encompassing over 513 square miles. In the late 1980’s the population was nearing ninety-thousand people. Comprised of a mix of industrial and service industries it also host a large medical community. This area lies within the triangle of Chattanooga, Birmingham and Atlanta. At the hub of this medical matrix is Redmond Regional Medical Center.
Since the late 1960’s Floyd Medical Center was the sole operator of EMS in Floyd Co. Prior to this, funeral homes provided little more than a fast ride in a hearse before national standards were implemented. Until 1989 all the citizens were served by only two 24 hour EMS units, often depending on the fire department to supplement care without transport capability. Many wanted to expand the number of ALS crews. However, there was never any support at the executive level citing added burdens from an already financially draining department.
In the late 1980’s, Redmond Park Hospital—as it was originally named—was headed by two forward-thinking executives, Paul Rutledge and Phil Campbell. These two men envisioned an EMS strategically suited to compliment their growing cardiac facility and network. The plan called for effective treatment and transport of critically ill cardiac patients from outlying hospitals. It would have state of the art equipment and highly trained dual paramedic teams. They would also support Redmond’s mobile cardiac cath lab that served rural hospitals. The idea was similar to air medical services that specialized in critical interventions.
The first EMS director, Victor Giovanetti, was a former flight medic with Georgia Baptist Life Flight in Atlanta and a supervisor with Metro EMS. His familiarity with advanced medical transport needs gave Redmond EMS a good start. Employees were brought on board September 1, 1989 and an ambulance service license was issued on September 12, 1989. Measures were taken to ensure the unveiling of the hospital’s new name and newest department was not spoiled. Units were prepped and kept in Atlanta. We were sometimes referred to as the “Secret Service.”
The latest in communications, cardiac monitoring and drug therapy were made available. Medics served routinely in CCU, ICU, Cath Lab and surgery to ensure competencies. Training in 12 lead EKG recognition was a key element. Salaries were above average and shifts were 24hrs on 72hrs off. Assistant Administrator Phil Campbell revealed HCA’s commitment to take losses of $500,000 a year for the first five years to help establish the service. Steps were also taken not to rob local EMS of their staff, so recruiting was primarily in the Atlanta area. Original employees included: Anthony Clifton, Debra Parrish, Scott Johnson, Saralyn Murphy, Alberto Ortiz, Don St. Clair and Cecil Wolf. A separate BLS crew handled all non-emergency transports. The service also employed its own dispatchers and was not initially a 911 provider.
The first year saw Redmond EMS became Georgia’s first pilot program for the use of TPA in the field. TPA was used to bust clots in the heart that caused heart attacks. Redmond paramedics routinely transported patients from Cedartown, Breman and Calhoun experiencing heart attacks. Medics established TPA at the facility and on occasions the patients would re-perfuse en route often with weird arrhythmias. IV drips that were uncommon to most services were also used including nitroglycerin, heparin, and dopamine via new transport pumps. Crews might spend thirty minutes prepping for transport in the ER, adapting equipment, followed by a 50 mile emergency transport. Locally, medics would contact the cardiologist on call and fax a copy of the EKG. The first case in Georgia of a documented out of hospital successful TPA administration involved an employee of the Inland Rome Corporation who requested Redmond EMS.
When not on calls the crews were encouraged to be visible in public venues throughout the county. Dispatch was located in the ER where medics assisted with patient care until 5pm after which time they could retire to room 335. This was the first quarters set aside for EMS and even the nearest elevator was defaulted to the third floor for convenience of EMS. The primary unit was staged at the ER entrance.
Hospital administration was very active in the growth of the service and spent a great deal to market it in the media. They had something unique and innovative to offer their customers. This would become evident as Redmond began to explore the zoning issue—but that’s another story.
Redmond EMS had impacted Floyd County and her neighbors. Within six months of its inception FMC added personnel, trucks and satellite stations. Many services upgraded their drug inventories and equipment. New vehicles suddenly began to replace aging fleets all around. An improved standard of care was established. Perhaps, the greatest benefit of Redmond EMS is the way customer service impacts a community.
Today, Redmond EMS continues looking forward to ensure that we provide the latest techniques and technology to give our patients the best care possible. We have expanded our service to cover a large portion of Floyd County with 911 coverage and in July of 2009 we began serving the citizens of Polk County, Georgia as the primary 911 provider. In 2011 we expanded even further and began 911 service in Chattooga County. We are now a multi-county 911 EMS provider for Floyd, Polk and Chattooga. The future for Redmond EMS is looking bright.