On January 5, 2018 the Winona Rotary Club held its regular Friday noon meeting at the Pizza Inn. President Jonathan Graves presided. Twenty-six members and 2 guests were present. Kent Mortimer introduced David L. [Dave] Eldridge II as his program.
Dave Eldridge is a Kilmichael resident and serves as the Fire Chief of Kilmichael’s Volunteer Fire Department. He is the Director of Operations for Medstat EMS, Inc. He is also married to Rotarian Carla Eldridge.
Medstat was formed by Rotarian Barry Eskridge in 1996 and began its operations in Winona. It started out small with two ambulances. It grew into a large operation and it now serves nine counties with one hundred and seventy employees, fifty - seven vehicles and twenty-seven ambulances. Barry sold it to an investment group a couple of years ago but it continues to maintain its primary office in Winona.
The Winona office serves as an administrative office, a dispatch service, and a training center. Medstat employs drivers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, dispatchers, and administrative personnel. There are three dispatchers on duty during the day and two at night. Its maintenance department is located in Greenwood, and that department provides maintenance for all of its vehicles.
When a call comes it can be directly to Medstat or it can be to E911. E911 calls can be immediately transferred to Medstat. Many of the calls are for non-emergency transportation services. But when the call is for an emergency the dispatcher immediately dispatches the appropriate staff and equipment to do what is necessary. In addition they stay on the call and provide pre-transport advice and information. When the ambulance arrives it is usually staffed with an EMT driver and a paramedic. The paramedic assesses the situation and makes a decision on where to transport the patient. A paramedic has similar training to a registered nurse and operating under existing protocols he or she can dispense any necessary medications. The patient is not always transported to the nearest hospital. Hospitals in Mississippi are ranked according to the trauma care that they provide. For example, UMC in Jackson is the only Level 1 trauma center in the state; North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo is Level 2, and Tyler Holmes is Level 4. The levels are based on the available services.
In addition to ground transportation Medstat also has helicopter transportation available. Winona no longer has a helicopter based here but there is one at Greenwood which may be are available. The paramedic makes the initial decision on whether to use ground or air transport. That decision is based on the trauma needs of the patient and the financial cost does not factor into the decision. Naturally, we all want the best care available when we or a family member is injured, and that is what the paramedic is trained to provide. But the differences in the cost of ground transport and air transport are stark, and you can expect the air transport bill to run around $75,000.00 for a trip from Winona to Tupelo or Jackson. According to the internet insurance is available to cover that cost through various providers for less than $100.00 per year for a household. You should consider buying it.
Winona is fortunate to have Medstat based here, not only for the jobs that it provides, but also for the services that it makes available to us. So if you see Barry Eskridge or Dave Eldridge or a Medstat employee, tell them thank you.
At our next meeting the club will welcome a representative from the Rotary district leadership team. You are invited to come and bring a guest and you are asked to remember the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.”