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Ambulance service gets van, but no crew

Ambulance service gets van, but no crew

April 20th, 2017 by News Tribune in Local News

The Cole County Ambulance Service will get a transfer van, but will go without requested new crew members.

Cole County commissioners Tuesday awarded a bid from Emergency Services Supply in Linn for the van and a new ambulance at a total cost of $233,000.

Although only $220,000 was budgeted this year, Ambulance Director Jerry Johnston said they should avoid having to purchase a new ambulance next year, as planned.

Johnston said the service will get rid of two ambulances now — with one going to the Sheriff's Department for use as a special operations vehicle and the other to be sold.

Earlier this month, Johnston had proposed hiring two new EMTs to staff the transfer van, running seven days a week, to help the ambulance service capture all transfer volume (including critical care) while assuring more efficient 911 coverage.

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Commissioners were receptive to Johnston's proposal but were wary of spending more money on the service after recent increases to the ambulance budget — adding five employees and putting in a new computer dispatch service, all totaling $376,263.

Johnston said the transfer van plan could work using existing staff, although it probably will be less efficient.

Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle said he couldn't justify adding more personnel with the service bringing in $270,000 a month, but that he'd consider it at $370,000.

"We hear that we're getting more calls, but I don't see new revenue from those," Scheperle said.

Johnston said emergency calls had remained at a steady, not increasing, level since he arrived in January. "The volume for calls for transfers is getting higher," he added.

The commission approved increasing rates earlier this year on some types of calls. Johnston said it could be as much as 180 days before the service sees the effect of that change.