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Ambulance calls rising in Callaway County

The Callaway County Ambulance District is on track to have another record year for call volume.

For 2013, district crews have responded to 1,884 calls through the end of May — 254 more than the same period in 2012.

“At this pace, we’ll do almost 4,500 calls (for 2013), which would be our busiest year ever, and I don’t see any signs it’s slowing down,” CCAD Director Charles Anderson told the board of directors during its regular meeting Tuesday night. “We’re averaging 121⁄2 calls per 24-hour shift, with calls taking an average of 90 to 120 minutes to complete, and that doesn’t necessarily include time on writing reports.”

Medical Director James Stevermer asked during Tuesday night’s meeting whether that increase is becoming a strain on district resources.

“We are seeing more frequently situations where we’re having to do all-call or send myself or Linda (Ellis, assistant director) or the on-duty supervisor having to go out because we’re at status zero,” Anderson responded, noting evenings often seem to be especially busy. “We’re seeing that happen several times a week now. We’re also seeing where crews are up a lot more for the entire 24-hour shift.”

Despite that, Anderson said Wednesday afternoon that the district is not yet at a point where it needs to seriously consider adding personnel or another crew to shifts.

“While call volume continues to be higher, I don’t think we have enough of a history with that,” he said. “It’s so expensive to add another crew, and budget-wise we’re spending about what we bring in right now, so I’m hesitant to add that much of an expense at this time.”

Asked how extended a period of call increases he would consider to be enough of a history to justify that kind of move, Anderson said “I don’t know that there’s a magic point that we say it’s too much.”

“Certainly in 2014 if we’re continuing to see a rise in calls we would be more inclined to look at it,” Anderson said. “If it stabilizes and stays steady, probably not.”

He pointed out that although the 4,131 runs made in 2012 — which averages out to approximately 11.3 calls per day — were a record at the time, the 3,774 runs made in 2011 were actually 107 fewer than made in 2010.

“So these things tend to run in cycles where you’ll get busier, and then all of a sudden it will drop off,” Anderson said. “We’ll just kind of keep an eye on it to see where we’re at.”

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