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NEWS | April 3, 2017

New Initiative streamlines base, county emergency response times

By Airman 1st Class Megan Munoz Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Leadership from Joint Base Charleston and Charleston County representatives signed a memorandum of agreement combining their call centers to shorten the response times of military and civilian first responders at the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center, March 30.

The Public-Public, Public-Private, better known as P4, program makes mutually beneficial partnerships with the community to leverage resources, combine similar services and improve the relationships of Air Force bases and the surrounding counties. There have been 250 P4 initiatives Air Force-wide since the inception of the program, with six of the initiatives taking place here.

“At Joint Base Charleston we like to think of ourselves as great neighbors to the Lowcountry,” said Col. Robert Lyman, JB Charleston commander. “But, today is an example of the Lowcountry being a great neighbor to the joint base. This partnership saves the federal tax payers a great deal of money, but even more importantly, it allows us to respond much faster and more effectively when families living on base need help.”

The 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department has seven minutes from the time a call is placed to be on scene, while Charleston County Emergency Medical Service ambulances have 12 minutes to get on base. Previously, a call would be transferred from the 628th Security Forces Squadron law enforcement desk or the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center to the appropriate authorities. The caller would then give the same information each time they were transferred before a unit could be dispatched, cutting into the response time.

“Early intervention to a medical emergency is the key to saving someone’s life,” said Tech. Sgt. Lee Fast, 628th CES Fire Department NCO in charge of the emergency communication center. “A lot can happen in those 12 minutes that could be irreversible. If help gets there on time, we can try and make sure that person’s life is saved.”

With this agreement, all calls are answered by the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center. The center then forwards the information electronically to the 628th Security Forces Squadron, 628th CES Fire Department or Charleston County EMS.

This new procedure also saves JB Charleston money by eliminating the need to refresh the Air Force 911 system. The system needs to be refreshed every five years and costs $500,000. Through this combined effort, the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center will reduce the refresh cost to $325,000.

“Our call takers are trained to answer calls, ask the questions that need to be asked and give life-saving instructions,” said James Lake, Charleston Consolidated 911 Center director. “Because of the rotation of calls, that wasn’t something Joint Base Charleston could do. Now, call takers send the information to the dispatchers at Joint Base Charleston and let them work to their strengths and let us work to our strengths.”

The partnership also allows for Charleston County EMS ambulances to access base maps through GPS units. This ensures they are taking the most direct route to the scene.

The Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center also provides emergency medical dispatchers. EMDs stay on the phone with callers asking questions and to determine what the patient needs. Once it is determined what medical actions should be taken, the EMD gives instructions to the caller on how to help the patient before emergency services arrive.

Past P4 initiatives here include the Berkley County bookmobile service on the Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station, motorcycle safety training with Trident Technical College and mental health services and referrals with Trident Medical Center. Partnerships with surrounding counties are in progress to use the Joint First Responder Training Center and joint usage of sports fields with Goose Creek.