Sandusky County EMS uses technology to be at its best

Sandusky County EMS stays up-to-date with the latest technology to ensure the department is at its best.
In October, the organization was recognized as being in the top 5 percent of the country, after receiving accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation Ambulance Services. There are just 6 departments in the state and less than 200 nationally that have received the same accreditation.
The department met more than 100 standards to earn the honor. Those standards include fiscal management, community relations and equipment standards.
Sandusky County EMS Director Jeff Jackson, who has held his position for about 11 years, said the department has about 37 employees and handled about 6,200 squad runs last year.
Accreditation is not the only honor the organization has received. In 2017, Sandusky County EMS was named of the top eight EMS agencies in Ohio for cardiac response.
Jackson said his favorite part about the job is adding new equipment because it can make it easier for his crews to do their jobs efficiently.
“Over the past 11 years, new products and technology have really played a big role in crew safety and efficiency,” he said. “It is a rare day that we don’t use some new product or form of technology in the daily operations.”
Jackson said things have changed for the better.
“Everything from moving a patient to how to send a 12-lead ECG to documentation has all changed over the past several years. Gone are the days we actually move a patient using an army of people and brute force. This has kept our workforce at work and not injured.”
Jackson said in recent years the department has upgraded its cardiac monitors to a smaller, lighter and faster machine (the Zoll X series).
“These machines are half the weight as previous monitors and they do twice the work,” he said. “The technology behind them is impressive. We also have mechanical CPR devices, which when you run two-person squads, they are like having a third person.”
Jackson said data is gathered from the machines and is then used to improve training practices.
“Our organization has become very technology dependent, which can be good and bad,” he said. “We have become very dependent on having a constant internet connection. We use that resource in multiple applications. The downfall is when things don’t work. It’s not as easy as reaching in the drawer and pulling out another pen. It’s another process that needs to be completed to try and troubleshoot.”
Jackson said the newest technology to be added to his department’s trucks are GPS units and mobile communication terminals.
“These are in preparation for the new 9-1-1 system that Sandusky County is transitioning to in March 2019,” he said.
Jackson said some of the biggest challenges his organization faces are personnel and issues with vehicles.
“None of the two are quick fixes,” he said.
Jackson said a shortage of paramedics and EMTs in Ohio has made finding and retaining good employees difficult. His response to the personnel challenge is to raise awareness about the field.
“We have to make people aware that EMS is a very good career to enter into,” he said. “We also have to make sure legislators are aware of the importance of EMS.”
Ken Majors, director of neighboring Seneca County EMS, commended Jackson and his department for their professionalism and high standards.
“Jeff is a natural leader of a very progressive third-service countywide EMS department,” Majors said. “His experience, knowledge and vision for the future is leading the way in Northwest Ohio EMS.”

This story will be featured in February’s monthly OEMSCA newsletter