By partnering with Air Evac Lifeteam, Mercy Regional Emergency Medical Services has further expanded its services in McCracken County.
"We now have a helicopter on our property. It adds air medical services to our current ground services and provides the opportunity to reach beyond Paducah, if we need to connect to a Level 1 trauma center or a burn center," said Jeremy Jeffrey, executive director of Mercy EMS.
"Paducah is essentially the regional hub for health care for the tri-state area. Interstate 24 runs through it, so it's easy to get to."
From 1966 to 1996, the ambulance service was privately owned and known as Angels of Mercy EMS. In 1996, it was sold, first to Lourdes and then after a short time, it became a joint venture between Lourdes and Baptist Health Paducah.
"We have amazing cooperation with both (hospital) presidents and directors of both facilities," Jeffrey said. "It's pretty fortunate for us. It provides us with resources for education and other things that we might not have if we were not affiliated with them."
The agency has 72 total full- and part-time employees. It operates 11 ambulances and has four bases of operation: its main office and administrative headquarters on Coleman Road, in the Farley area on Estes Lane, downtown near the courthouse annex, and in Lone Oak on Cave Thomas Drive with the Lone Oak Fire Department.
According to Jeffrey, Mercy EMS will likely top 16,000 total requests for transport this year.
"I try to factor in a percent to a percent-and-a-half increase (annually)," he said. "Over the last five years we've stayed pretty consistent with that."
With the help of Dr. Brett Bechtel, medical director, and Dr. Allison Rains, assistant medical director, the services stays abreast of the latest technology available, according to Jeffrey.
"We try to stay ahead of the 'technology curve' and that's not easy to do all the time," he said.
"We do as much as we can. It's about being financially responsible with our money and making sure it's going to benefit the patient because that's what it's all about. Our main focus is the patient and keeping the mortality rates down in McCracken County as much as we can."
Mercy EMS personnel have plenty of opportunities to be trained in the latest procedures and techniques, Jeffrey said.
"Our service is very busy, so you get the experience real quick," he said. "What might take you 10 years in another ambulance service, you can get in about two years in ours. A lot of services will go years without every seeing childbirth or gunshot wounds ... we see that every year."
In addition, the emergency medical technicians and paramedics have to work in all kinds of environments - hot, cold, rain and snow.
"Every day's different," Jeffrey said.
The department also tries to stay engaged with the community with a presence at large public gatherings such as Barbecue on the River in downtown Paducah.
"We pride ourselves on the services we provide. It's just a different world," he said. "It's a world of critical thinking and being able to do that in a split second. It's a very special individual that can do it."
Mercy Regional EMS
• Main office, administrative headquarters on Coleman Road. Substations located in the Farley Area on Estes Lane, downtown near the courthouse annex, and in Lone Oak on Cave Thomas Drive within Lone Oak Fire Department.
• Established in 1966
• Approximately 16,000 transfer requests annually
• 72 full-and part-time employees
• Executive Director Jeremy Jeffrey; Medical Director, Dr. Brett Bechtel; Assistant Medical Director, Dr. Allison Rains.
"Our service is very busy, so you get the experience real quick. What might take you 10 years in another ambulance service, you can get in about two years in ours... "
- Jeremy Jeffrey, executive director