Full EMS service restoration nearing

CADIZ – Doug Crabtree, president of Harrison County’s EMS Association, completed the first phase of restoring full EMS service to Harrison County. Crabtree presented a Emergency Medical Service contract on behalf of the Harrison County Community Volunteer Fireman’s Association at Wednesday’s county commissioners’ meeting.

“There are some changes to the contract.?First of all, it is for a period of one year, typically these are four year contracts,” Crabtree told the board. “It should also be noted that there are two EMS units located in Cadiz, one at the EMS building and one will be at the fire station.”

Crabtree noted that no EMS unit has been located in the firehouse since the two entities split in 1972. Supplemental to the contract was an attached addendum, outlining the new reimbursements for fire and EMS departments.

He said procedure for a Cadiz emergency is that the dispatcher at the sheriff’s office notifies Cadiz EMS as the primary, with New Athens and Hopedale as back up. All are notified at the same time if an ambulance is needed. The standard practice has had New Athens heading to the scene two minutes after the initial contact, and Hopedale at five minutes. At that point, the dispatcher would begin contacting private services such as the hospital to supplement.

Under new proposed guidelines responding departments will now receive $55 travel reimbursement from the county, $35 for responding and disregarding. Departments will receive $100 travel/drug expense reimbursement for Medic Assist and $50 travel reimbursement for intermediate assist.

“The county encourages a portion of these reimbursements funds to be used to reimburse volunteers,” Crabtree read from the addendum. “Also we have changed some paging policies.”

The Cadiz Fire Department will receive ambulance 101 and be paged when drug licensed. They will be paged as number 113. Cadiz EMS will receive ambulance 105 and be paged as number 101.

“I appreciate the sub-committee, Cadiz Fire Department, all the volunteers in general, New Athens for helping Cadiz, also the hospital and all of the people who have worked hard on this,” commission chair Dale Norris commended. “Everyone has shown that commitment to the safety of the citizens of our county continues to be the primary concern in all negotiations.”

The commissioners approved Contract 1-14 and advertised for proposals from private, for-profit ambulance and EMT services with Don Bethel abstaining due to conflicts of interest.

Crabtree added that the county cannot dispatch for a private, for-profit entity without a contract in place. Proposals for these contracts will be accepted until March 19 at 10 a.m. when they will be opened during the commissioners meeting.

One issue still remaining to be resolved will be when and how soon to page private services. He noted that the county typically operates on a three-department call out for EMS service, with one primary and two back up departments. All 911 calls currently run through the operator in the sheriff’s office and are dispatched through the aforementioned protocol.

Initial projections indicate that in the proposals services will bill the county $300 for basic runs, and some concern has been expressed that private, for-profit services could “jump” calls paged to volunteer departments.

“While these are important issues and will no doubt take some time and perhaps some trial and error to resolve, we are now one step closer to restoring county wide EMS services.”

“On behalf of the EMS Association, the Fireman’s Association and the general public, we thank the commissioners for your hard work and your faith in us,” Crabtree added. “We are proud of the service that we perform and hope we can continue to do so for years to come.” .

HCH EMS – The Harrison Community Hospital EMS – has played a vital role since last July when a shortage of volunteers left Cadiz village EMS service unable to respond to many local calls. They will have an opportunity to submit a proposal to the county to continue their role providing both back up and primary EMS service for residents.

Palmer may be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com