CoxHealth wants only its employees to drive ambulances

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First responders could operate Barry-Lawrence ambulances

CoxHealth prefers to only have its employees drive its ambulances, said a hospital spokesperson, in response to a new Missouri law that allows first responders, firefighters and law enforcement to drive ground ambulances in certain emergency situations.

"I think the law was intended to give our ambulance service some flexibility to allow a first responder to drive an ambulance should we have resources that are restrained, like no employees available to drive the unit," said Michelle Leroux, the hospital's media relations coordinator. "This would be in a severe emergency situation, but our insurance requires that the driver be an employee.

"In a case where we need some assistance, we would defer and have our first responder assist with care in the back of our vehicle because these individuals are trained in first aid."

That action would be the hospital's first choice, Leroux said. CoxHealth has nine paramedics and nine emergency medical technicians who cover southern Barry County.

"In the event there was an accident or anything like that, our insurance covers the situation," she said. "Should we put someone behind that who is not on our insurance, that would create some extreme liability for us."

The newly-enacted law stipulates qualified emergency personnel must have "a valid drivers' license and prior experience with driving emergency vehicles."

The Barry-Lawrence County Ambulance District, which covers northern Barry County and southern Lawrence County, allows first responders who are affiliated with city and rural fire districts to drive a ground ambulance if both of the district's trained personnel are working on patients in the back, said Jeaneittia Pierce, the district manager.

The Barry-Lawrence County Ambulance District has five full-time paramedics, five full-time EMTs, about eight part-time paramedics and about 10 part-time EMTs, she said.

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