Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Macon County Emergency Services coordinator Todd Doster said that the county’s emergency services sees an average increase of 3 percent in call volumes from year to year… until 2021 when Macon County Emergency Services experienced a surge of calls, with a 21 percent spike over the prior year.
From 2019 to 2020, EMS calls within the county fell from 6,618 calls to 6,334 – a drop of just over 4 percent – but the following year saw a dramatic uptick in calls as the department responded to 7,698 requests in 2021.
Doster spoke to the Rotary Club of Franklin Noon Club on Wednesday where the Rotary Club hosted employees of Macon County’s emergency services in honor of National EMS Week. May 15-21, 2022, is the 47th annual National EMS Week. In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and the important work they do in the nation’s communities. The theme for the 2022 EMS Week was “Rising to the Challenge” something Doster explained Macon County EMS has done, especially in the face of a global pandemic.
The cause of the increase in calls is not 100 percent clear, however, Doster said people just appear to be calling 911 more frequently, whereas in the past people would wait as long as possible to call 911.
Just as EMS was experiencing an unprecedented spike in calls, Macon County’s EMS, like most organizations, was experiencing staffing shortages that threatened the future and functionality of the program. Doster said at its worse, EMS had 11 openings in an agency that typically employed 41 people. That staffing shortage was reported for around six months until after a pay increase was approved by Macon County leadership. Doster said that currently EMS has three openings and while he believes that is still too many, it is far better than a few months prior.
“The pay increase that was provided for us a few months ago has helped, but all the areas around us have had to do the same to remain competitive,” Doster told Rotary members.
During lunch, Doster also announced that Matt Pruett was named EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) of the year. He was selected by his peers for this award. Pruett has been with Macon County EMS for 11 years and is currently serving as the “B” shift, Field Training Officer.