FAQ

Q:  When do emergency vehicles utilize lights and siren?

A:  The time saved navigating traffic using lights and sirens can be essential, but due to the high risk involved
      with emergency responses (using lights and siren) only life-threatening conditions are dispatched or
      transported in this manner.  Examples of life-threatening conditions include - vehicle accidents with injuries,
      chest pain, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, and drowning.  These are all examples of emergencies
      that would warrant the use of lights and sirens.  Less emergent services, such as routine doctor's 
      appointments and uncomplicated chronic ailments, will not require lights and siren use.  The type of
      response is initially determined by emergency medical dispatchers (EMD's) at the Beaufort County E-911
      Center.  EMD's use a set criteria to determine the appropriate responses for each call.

Q:  What should I do when approached by an emergency vehicle? 

A:  South Carolina law requires motorists to yield the right of way to emergency vehicles who are traveling
      with activated lights and siren.  The correct procedure is to pull to the right side of the road and come to
      a complete stop until the emergency vehicle has passed.  Motorists heading toward the ambulance should
      also pull to the right side of the road and come to a stop.  Both lanes of travel are required to stop for the
      ambulance so long as a divided median is not present.  If you are stopped at an intersection with a traffic
      light, you should remain in your lane of travel so long as the ambulance has an open lane to go around.  
      Remember pull to the RIGHT.

Q:  Someone I know had a heart attack and the family had to do CPR.  The ambulance stayed at
       the house a long time.  Shouldn't the paramedics have transported him right away to the
       hospital?
 

A:  Certain emergencies require advanced treatment on scene before transport can be initiated.  For example,
      during cardiac arrests (where a person's heart stops), the paramedics must establish a secure airway and
      attempt to convert the patient's heart back to normal before beginning to transport the patient to the
      hospital.  IV's usually are started on-scene of cardiac arrests because it is more efficient than in a moving
      ambulance while still performing CPR.  The IV is one of the most effective routes for drug therapy.  
      Paramedics are capable of providing the same initial treatment for cardiac arrest patients in the ambulance
      as you might see done first thing in the emergency department.  The time delay of providing treatment
      on-scene is warranted by the benefits gained.

Q:  I was in an accident but I wasn't hurt.  I was asked to sign a form because I didn't want to go to
       the hospital with the paramedics.  What was the form for?

A:  You were asked to sign a release of liability section of a standard patient care report.  This releases Beaufort
      County EMS and its affiliated agencies and employees from liability for your refusal of treatment and transport.  
      This does not affect your future rights if you later decide to seek treatment from the hospital, ambulance 
      service, or any other entity.

Q:  How many ambulances do you have?

A:  Beaufort County EMS owns 17 ambulances and 3 quick response units, all of which are capable of being staffed
      on a moment's notice.  We staff 9 advanced life support ambulances and 3 quick response units 24 hours a
      day, 365 days a year.

Q:  Where are the ambulances located?

A:  Our headquarters station is located at 2727 Depot Road, Beaufort.  Headquarters houses an advanced
      ambulance, along with backup or reserve ambulances.  Beaufort County EMS also maintains satellite
      stations in Bluffton, Daufuskie and Sun City, which house an advanced ambulance, and backup or reserve
      ambulances.  Satellite stations in Burton, Lady's Island, Lobeco, and St. Helena each house an advanced
      ambulance.  The stations at Sheldon, Fripp Island and Callawassie have an advanced Quick response unit.

Q:  What is the difference between an EMT - Basic, EMT - Intermediate, and a Paramedic?

A:  Emergency Medical Technicians – Basic (EMT- B) are trained in patient assessment and treatment at a basic
      level.  An EMT – Basic may administer Oxygen, use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), stabilize a
      potential spinal injury patient on a backboard, splint fractures and bandage wounds, do definitive airway
      interventions, monitor vital signs, and perform on-going assessment of patient's condition.

     An EMT-Intermediate (EMT- I) attends more training and can do all the skills of an EMT – B, but can also
     initiate Intra-venous (IV) lines for fluid resuscitation.  EMT – I can also perform an even more advanced
     airway methods than an EMT.

     Paramedics attend approximately two more years of training, and are capable of many additional skills.  
     A Paramedic may also analyze, interpret and treat various heart rhythms, give appropriate medications
     with pre-arranged "standing orders," treat critical trauma patients with advanced maneuvers such as chest
     decompression for a collapsed lung, establish advanced IV lines, as well as Intra-osseous line, which are
     specific to pediatrics and go into the bone marrow, and provide a invaluable liaison to the hospital
     emergency room.  Paramedics are now trained in skills that were formerly reserved exclusively for the
     Emergency Room staff, such as 12 lead EKGs, cardioversion, and new methods of securing an airway, such
     as Rapid Sequence Intubation and using a new adjunct, the LMA and CPAP

Q:  How busy are you guys?  Looks to me like you sit at the station all day.

A:  Calls can vary from day to day.  One day a crew may get just a few calls.  On another day, the crew may
      not stop running calls.  Beaufort County EMS responds to approximately 12,000 calls annually.  In addition,
      we are responsible for maintaining, cleaning and restocking the ambulances.  We also have programs
      involving public relations and special events

Q:  I would like to work for Beaufort County EMS.  How do I go about getting hired?

A:  Beaufort County EMS only hires currently certified Basics, Intermediates and Paramedics who have previous
      work experience.  Various technical schools and colleges in South Carolina can provide the necessary training
      to obtain certification.  EMT's currently must attend 139 hour of classroom training that is interspersed with
      required clinical time in an emergency department.  Paramedics must be certified EMT's before they can begin
      training in paramedicine.  Paramedics receive an additional training in the classroom, ambulance, and various
      departments of hospital.  Check the Beaufort County Human Resources Department.

Q:  Can I ride with the paramedics on the ambulance?

A:  Currently we only allow personnel with affiliated agencies to observe.

Q:  How can I schedule a demonstration at my school or organization?

A:  Demonstrations for children are available nearly anytime.  Yes, they include coloring books (we wouldn't want
      to disappoint the kids!).  Teachers and organization leaders can schedule a demonstration by contacting our
      Public Information Officer at 843-255-2035.  We ask that you please give us a few weeks notice!

Q:  My child is fascinated by ambulances.  Can I take him to the station to look at an ambulance?

A:  Yes, phone the shift supervisor or senior crew chief at 843-255-5360.  Please note that due to the unpredictable
      nature of emergencies, the crew may not be present when you arrive at the station.

Q:  I called one of the stations and didn't get an answer.  Looks to me you guys could miss an emergency call.  
       What's the deal?

A:  The station numbers are the living quarters of the crews.  They are NOT for requesting ambulance transportation!  
      If you need an ambulance, you should contact Beaufort County E-911 by dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency.  When
      the crew leaves to respond to a call, there is no one around to answer the phone in the living quarters.  This is
      why it's important to call Beaufort County E-911 for all ambulance requests.  We are dispatched via radio.

Q:  I have a question that's not covered here.  Where can I find the answer?

A:  Email us, give us a call at the headquarters station, or just come by and visit us.  
      Email questions to dtinnel@bcgov.net.