Harrison EMS accord progressing

CADIZ – Doug Crabtree, president of Harrison County’s EMS Association, told the board of commissioners Wednesday that the county firefighters association would be meeting with Smith Ambulance and the Harrison Community Hospital to discuss details of an agreement to provide coverage for the county.

“Mr. Bob Smith and Smith Ambulance are not new to the game, they have been assisting Harrison County volunteer services for as long as, if not longer, than the hospital has,” Crabtree stated. “They have been our back up in the western part of the county, after purchasing United which we had used since I have been involved in the EMS service.”

“When the hospital came on board it centrally located its services here in Cadiz, because Smith did not come this far,” Crabtree explained. “So as we researched our resources, the two services are located as such that they can cover the two areas we need help in efficiently from their home base.”

“Smith has a satellite office in Uhrichsville making it easier to get their resources out to Bowerston, Tippecanoe or Freeport,” Crabtree added. “Using their resources close to their base, in the best fit area allows the best coverage for our citizens.”

“We don’t have the resources to cover the entire county without the help of volunteers, so we thought it was best to partner with Smith to provide quality coverage for all citizens,” said Kevin Milligan, assistant CEO of Harrison Community Hospital. “It was a joint proposal to the scenario submitted by the association. We worked with Smith Ambulance to put those numbers together as a partnership.”

“We are very supportive of Smith Ambulance and they are very supportive of Harrison County,” Milligan said. “The joint proposal was specifically designed toward resources and a way we could economically help the county afford any subsidy or assistance.”

“There have been no staffing models put in place. We have three organizations combining together to better serve the community.” Milligan responded, addressing concerns that some hospital employees could lose their jobs as a result of the collaboration. “They have additional resources and we thought that added to our resources that would be the best for the community.”

“If anything it will benefit all three parties,” Crabtree interjected.

The county firefighters association will meet with the two parties to go over the proposal and expect to have a contract to present to the board and a deal in place before the first of the year.

Commissioners also heard from Andy Atkins and Dean White of the county health board and Charles Fisher, administrator of the Harrison County Health Department, concerning budget shortfalls for the fiscal year 2013. Fisher stated that the the state of Ohio has recommended the addition of a second full time sanitarian to bring the county to a 2.1 sanitarian level. The state has threatened to take over the department if there is not compliance. “Without some help, we will have to cut services after the first of the year,” said Atkins.

The commissioners explained that expense would not seem to be feasible under current budgetary constraints.

Fisher stated that because of the extensive education and certification that no applicants are interested in taking a position as a part-time sanitarian.

“I think if we get together with the board that a resolution to the problem could be found, and we can address that at the next meeting,” said committee chair Don Bethel. “We are hoping that this is an abnormal year and moving forward, we can get our feet back underneath of us and get our funding straightened back out again.”

Commissioner Dale Norris stated that the county would continue to work with the health board towards a resolution and would not let the state shut down the health department.

Palmer can be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com