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EMS usage on the rise in Peachtree City

As Peachtree City’s population continues to age, the demands on emergency services will continue to increase, Fire Chief Ed Eiswerth told the City Council last week.

Some 34 percent of the city’s EMS calls last year were for persons age 65 and older, Eiswerth said. That’s a big number considering that such people account for just 10.2 percent of the city’s population, he added.

From 2009 to 2010, EMS calls increased overall by 15 percent, Eiswerth said.

And this year is looking to be a 12 percent jump already, he added.

The weakened economy has added to an increase in EMS call volume, Eiswerth said, as some residents lack proper health care and insurance due to the recession.

“If we continue to track like we have been, which is OK, and bring in more assisted living and more retirees that are older, the demand for services is not going to decrease, it’s going to increase,” Eiswerth said.

Having been named a “Top 10” place to retire in the United States will only serve to attract more seniors, Eiswerth added. And while that’s great for the city, it will equate to an even higher demand for EMS services, the chief said.

The department is working on improving volunteer response and will be asking for more money to enhance the stipend program that paid volunteers a small amount of money for each call they responded to. That program had a fixed amount of funds available and it ran out; when that happened the volunteer response dropped off, Eiswerth said.

“Bottom line they save us anywhere from $500,000 to $750,000 a year,” Eiswerth said.

The fire department also has ramped up its in-house training and is working on improving its public education programs with a specific focus on the elderly and Hispanic communities, Eiswerth said.

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