(Delmarva Now) -- Data collected from March to May this year shows changes in ambulance response times resulting from Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital's move from Nassawadox to Onancock in February, an Accomack County official said.
Charles R. Pruitt, Accomack County Director of Public Safety, reported to the Accomack County Board of Supervisors numbers for total ambulance calls for each fire and rescue station in the county, as well those not meeting the benchmark of a response time of less than 20 minutes.
The data show, after the hospital's move 20 miles north, proportionately more ambulance traffic from the county headed to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital and fewer ambulances than last year headed north of the state line to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.
"What we're finding out is, a lot of ambulances ... are coming south. They are increasingly going Riverside," Pruitt said.
In March 2017, 81 percent of ambulance transports went to Riverside, compared to 72 percent the same month last year.
In all, 239 ambulance transports were made to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital and 54 went to Peninsula Regional Medical Center that month, compared to 204 to Riverside and 76 to PRMC in March 2016.
In April, nearly 81 percent of ambulances from the county went to Riverside, compared to 76.6 percent in April 2016. A total of 243 ambulances from Accomack County took patients to Riverside and 57 went to PRMC, compared to 233 to Riverside and 71 to PRMC last April.
In May, more than 79 percent of ambulances from Accomack County went to Riverside, compared to just under 72 percent last May. In all, 235 were transported to Riverside and 61 to PRMC in May, compared to 263 transported to Riverside and 102 to PRMC last May.
The shorter distance to the Virginia hospital from the northern fire and rescue company districts in particular appears to be changing patterns of where to transport patients.
"Chincoteague is the biggest difference I see; they're almost 50-50 now," said Robert Crockett, Accomack County Board of Supervisors chairman.
During the three-month period, Chincoteague's ambulance took 47 patients to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, versus 70 taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center. Last year, during the same period, Chincoteague transported just 26 to Riverside and took 98 patients to PRMC.
In addition to the hospital's move, the placement of an ambulance belonging to Wachapreague Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company at the Painter station, in the southern part of the county, in November 2016 has had an effect, Pruitt said.
"Putting that new resource down there changes things," he said.
The Wachapreague/Painter ambulance in 2017 had a three-month total of 113 in-district calls, with only four responded to by another agency. In constrast, last year from March to May, the same ambulance had just 37 calls, with 32 answered by another agency.
The data show ambulance calls are being answered in a timely fashion in Onley's district, where the fire and rescue company has had no ambulance in service since mid-March.
Those calls have been picked up by other stations — mainly by Onancock, but also by Parksley and Melfa, Pruitt said.
Because other stations, including Onancock and Tasley, are near Onley, as well as the hospital being close at hand, the under 20-minute benchmark is being met for nearly all calls.
Of 100 calls in the district during the three-month period, 87 were answered by another agency — and in only one case did it take longer than 20 minutes to respond.