In case of an emergency...
Written by Mallory Biering   

Since the Bamberg County Hospital closed, citizens of Bamberg County are concerned as to which hospital they will be taken to once an ambulance is called. According to the contract between the Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc. and Bamberg County, the rescue squad agrees on an exclusive basis, "to furnish ambulance emergency medical services as set out herein to all residents of Bamberg County."

It was believed once 911 is notified, and The Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc. is informed of the situation, it was no longer up to the patient which hospital they would be taken to. Now that the Bamberg County Hospital has been closed, this problem is more than ever apparent to the citizens. After speaking with Operations Manager, Martha Hammett, an employee of the Bamberg Rescue Squad since 1981, the process is much more clear.

Hammett said, "It's not necessarily where the patient wants to go, but where the patient can get the best treatment." She continued to explain this is not a decision made by the rescue squad, but by DHEC. Hammett also stressed that it depended on the seriousness and type of emergency as to where the patient would be taken. For example, "If you're complaining of abdominal pain, and your doctors are in Orangeburg, and you want to go to Orangeburg, that's where you would be taken. If your doctors are in Barnwell, and you want to go to Barnwell, then we will take you to Barnwell." Another example, would include a heart attack or a stroke victim. In a situation like this, where the patient's need is life threatening, the patient will be taken to the nearest available facility, which offers the best treatment for their emergency, or air lifted if their condition warrants it.

Honoring the requests of the patient is important to the team at the Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc. Nonetheless, they are trying to lessen the amount of time they are out of the county with a patient. Therefore, if a patient lives closer to Barnwell Hospital, and his or her situation is not life threatening, The Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc., would prefer to take the patient to Barnwell Hospital, because they can get the patient to treatment and return to the county in a quickly manner.

On the other hand, if a patient lives in Denmark, and the rescue squad says they are going to take the patient to Barnwell, but the patient says, "No, I want you to take me Orangeburg," The Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc., will honor their request, but the patient has to make the request. As stated previously, if the patient requests, Barnwell, Orangeburg, Hampton, or Colleton Hospitals are options for treatment, as long as those hospitals offer the treatment needed.

Hammett also stressed the importance of proper communication between the patient, the 911-Operator, and the Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc. Proper communication includes being honest when calling 911. The Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc., will respond at the same rate of speed no matter the situation-- each call is treated with the same urgency. It's important in counties like Bamberg, when there are only three rescue squad stations (Bamberg, Denmark, and Ehrhardt), to be mindful of what represents a real emergency. Due to the policies and procedures, a rescue team cannot leave one call to go to another, which can last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Therefore, if a patient is able to get treatment, without the use of an emergency vehicle, it should be done in order to keep an ambulance from being tied up from a life threatening emergency.

The Bamberg Rescue Squad, Inc. is committed to helping and serving the citizens of Bamberg County. Not only do they respond whenever they are called, but they will also file insurance claims for their patients. The squad has more than 30 employees, and their dedication brings the citizens comfort during times of need.