Pelham City Council hears updates on EMS initiatives during council meeting

Published 4:06 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer 

PELHAM – Due to a change in schedule brought on by the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Pelham City Council convened for a delayed city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 22.

The meeting, which marked the first convening of the Council since the resignation of Councilmember Mildred Lanier-Reed from Council Seat No. 5, saw the passage of a consent agenda, an update from the city’s EMS services and the passage of new business placed before the Council.

Among the items contained in the consent agenda, which saw unanimous passage from Councilmembers Coram, Leverett, Wash and Mercer were four Council resolutions.

The first of which was to accept the resignation of Councilmember Lanier-Reed’s resignation effective as of Jan. 8. In doing so, the Council’s next step is to proceed with the receipt of applications for Lanier-Reed’s replacement following her seven years of service to the city. Letters of interest and resumes will be accepted by the city from prospective applicants through Friday, Feb. 2 at 5 p.m., upon which time the Council will move forward with in-depth interviews with each applicant.

During the work session, the Council acknowledged the fact that, while no applicant had yet submitted themselves, they expected that to change in the coming days as the deadline approaches. In an abundance of planning and to ensure that the process was allowed the time necessary, the Council has tentatively scheduled a special work session for Tuesday, Feb. 13 to begin interviews for all applicants wishing to fill the vacant council seat.

In addition, the Council also passed a resolution approving a quote from Lower Bros. Tennis Courts to perform work to existing outdoor courts at Pelham City Park. That work, which was budgeted for fiscal year 2024, includes resurfacing for the basketball and pickleball courts, restriping of the tennis/pickleball courts and the replacement of two basketball goals.

The list of resolutions also included approval of the preparations to carry out traffic signal upgrades at 12 intersections throughout the city and the designation of a vehicle owned by the Pelham Police Department as surplus.

The vehicle in question, a 16-year-old Hummer, first became the department’s property as a result of a property seizure several years ago. Since that time, the vehicle had been used in multiple capacities for the PPD, but according to Police Chief Brent Sugg, it has since outlived its usefulness.

“(The Hummer) was used in the Police Explorer program and then it was given to Officer Miller at the middle school where he’s had it for the last couple of years,” Sugg said. “Now, we just think it is time to be done with it. We now have (Miller) in another vehicle and there’s really no need for (the Hummer). It is expensive to maintain.”

Following the passage of the full consent agenda, the Council received a presentation pertaining to the city’s EMS services delivered by EMS Director Capt. Matt Maples and Dr. Shea Duerring, the medical director for the Pelham Fire Department and the assistant state EMS medical director for pediatrics.

Duerring and Maples primarily relayed updates regarding two major initiatives relating to Pelham’s EMS capabilities, the first of which pertained to the county’s new blood product initiative.

“This is an initiative that we’re very excited about,” Duerring said. “It is going to be a county wide initiative that’s funded by the Shelby County Health Foundation. We will be one of the four sites in the county that has the blood products and we’re really, really excited about this.”

The blood products, which will be stored in specialized coolers exchanged with the Red Cross every 21 days to avoid expiration, will be kept aboard the department’s battalion chief vehicle to maintain readiness in the event of need.

Duerring described the program, funded fully by the SCHF, as an advancement in pre-hospital care that will allow EMS responders to quickly replace “blood with blood” rather than the usual provision of IV fluid to injured patients out in the field. According to Duerring, it will translate to the successful ability of Pelham’s emergency services to measurably save more lives.

“We estimate that we can save about 15 to 20 citizens in Shelby County each year by being able to administer this therapy in the pre-hospital setting,” Duerring said. “By having it here in the city of Pelham, it is instant access for our citizens should they be hurt or injured in a car wreck or any sort of injury, that they may require high volume resuscitation.”

The second major initiative presented was that of the growing adoption of pre-hospital ultrasound in the department.

“When it comes to EMS, when we respond to calls, we can only really assess what’s going on outside of somebody,” Maples said. “Pre-hospital ultrasound is going to allow us to look for (what may be) possible internal injuries whether it’s the patient’s heart, their lungs or abdominal (region).”

Specifically, the practice and usage of the technology allows for EMS to provide heart assessments during CPR, lung and other organ assessments following the receipt of trauma and the ability to more easily place IV lines in difficult situations.

Although Maples described the rollout of the new initiative as presenting a learning curve, he stated the belief that the therapy could be rolled out as soon as this summer.

Maples also provided an update for the start of EMS Transport anticipated to begin for the department on Jan. 1, 2025.

“There’s a lot of work for all of us to do,” Maples said. “(From) setting up billing processes, new hire orientation and training, policies and procedures, making sure that we have our licensure, our billing in order, making sure that we have our ambulances stocked in accordance to ADPH rules and regulations and that way when we go live on Jan. 1, there are as little hiccups as possible and we’re making sure our citizens are getting the service that they expect to receive.”

To highlight that coming importance that Pelham’s EMS will provide toward the ability to rapidly respond to medical emergencies, Duerring provided one last statistic he took great pride in announcing.

“This is something I could not be any more proud of our people for doing,” Duerring said. “The national average for getting a pulse back on an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (patient) hovers between 23 and 26 percent. Our EMS providers here in the city of Pelham last year had a 54 percent returning of circulation rate.”

That fact means that statistically, a patient in Pelham is twice as likely as the national average to be resuscitated from a cardiac arrest occurring out-of-hospital.

“We instituted, about two years ago, a new method of managing cardiac arrest here,” Duerring said. “We’ve trained very, very hard on it. We work really hard at it, the providers have really bought into it and the the success shows in the numbers.”

Duerring further stated Pelham’s progress in the realm of EMS by pointing out that the unique capabilities now housed in the city.

“There is only one place in the entire state of Alabama that has all (these) advanced level therapies and capabilities at it and that is the city of Pelham, that is the Pelham Fire Department,” Duerring said. “There is nowhere else that has all of these capabilities in one place.”

In other news, the city of Pelham passed the following new business:

  •  The repeal and replacement of the city’s current flood plain ordinance that was passed following a first reading through a suspension of council rules.
  •  The de-annexation from Pelham of 6.3 acres owned Robert E. Langston that was passed following a first reading through a suspension of council rules.