Ambulance talks at standstill

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

If Allen County and Iola are to resolve differences and return to one ambulance service, it is up to the city to make the next move, County Commissioner Rob Francis said Tuesday morning. The city has no plans to resume talks, City Administrator Judy Brigham said.
Francis, who has been negotiating on behalf of the county, said Iola rejected all proposals he and Nathan Cunningham, interim ambulance director, made at their last meeting, “about a month ago.”
Francis said another meeting had not been scheduled and “we’re waiting to hear from the city.”
Brigham said this morning that from the city’s perspective negotiations were over.
“We have no intention of making a proposal,” she said. “I thought we had decided that we would keep our service (within the city) and the county would keep theirs. The city is content with that.”
Meanwhile, commissioners moved a step closer to building an ambulance station in Gas. They received statements of qualifications from four builders — Joe Wiener and Hofer and Hofer, both of Humboldt, Don Erbert, Iola, and Triangle Builders, Paola — and said they would decide whether to solicit bids from three or all four at their meeting next Tuesday.
The bids will be for design and construction of a structure containing about 3,200 square feet with space for up to four ambulances, as well as living quarters and an office.
No mention was made of the LaHarpe Elementary School, which commissioners visited last week, as an ambulance station or for other county functions, such as a 911 dispatch center. Commissioners did meet in executive session to discuss acquisition of property, but took no action afterward.
The Gas station will replace rented space the county has in a building owned by Larry Macha at the east edge of Iola.
Jason Nelson, newly appointed ambulance director, and Terry Call, his assistant, said the rented building had some weather-related problems and did not have a kitchen or shower facilities for ambulance attendants, who are on duty 24 hours a day.
“When they want to shower, they have to use the truckers’ showers at Jump Start (convenience store) nearby or somewhere else,” Call said.
The county pays $2,000 a month rent for the quarters.

COMMISSIONERS accepted a proposal from Nelson to purchase needle drills that will be part of the equipment inventory for each of the county’s three active ambulances and fourth backup unit.
The drills will permit paramedics on ambulance runs to insert a needle into a patient’s bone to inject medications or fluids when it is difficult to start intravenous delivery.
Nelson said the devices would be particularly helpful with young patients, whose veins were small and sometimes hard to detect, and in older patients, whose veins sometimes were hard to invade.
Nelson also will be provided with a vehicle, probably a four-wheel drive vehicle from the sheriff’s or Public Works departments, that will permit him to arrive at the scenes of ambulance calls earlier than fully equipped units.
Once there, Nelson will help stabilize a patient — a first responder network is being developed to do the same — and even transport a patient if he or she is where it is difficult for an ambulance to go.