EMS service still an issue

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Allen County commissioners expect to spend less than $200,000 to build an ambulance station in Gas.
Nathan Cunningham, interim Emergency Medical Services director, told commissioners Tuesday he obtained preliminary plans from several sources for a building of about 3,000 square feet containing two ambulance bays, office and living quarters.
A request for proposals will be published soon.
Original plans were scrapped when a change in commissioners led to negotiations with Iola to return to a joint ambulance service.
Gary McIntosh, one of the new commissioners, said commissioners hope eventually to replace the proposed structure with one for a single countywide ambulance service.
Cunningham told commissioners James Romano, a consultant, paramedic and battalion fire chief from Olathe, said he would come to Allen County to evaluate the two services and propose how they might merge. The cost: $40,000.
Commissioner Dick Works responded, “Would his evaluation be better than that of the (state) Board of EMS? I think $40,000 is too much to spend for someone to tell us what common sense already has.”
The Board of Emergency Medical Services evaluated ambulance service in the county more than two years ago and recommended the county assume management. That happened, but led to the rift that today’s negotiations are trying to heal.
“I’ve heard by the grapevine that the problem was when you hired the woman (Elaine Dugan), the firefighters wouldn’t pay any attention to her,” Chuck Richey said. That’s true, Works said.
When Dugan went to counsel EMTs at the fire station, they “told her they worked for the city, not the county,” Works said.
That and concerns about quality of service led county commissioners to start a type I service, which requires a paramedic on board for every run, Works said.
He cited an instance when Dugan and others questioned whether standard procedures were followed when city ambulances carried patients.
“The city got mad when we questioned that,” Works said. “We just recognized a problem and were trying to fix it,” with upgraded service.
Romano will talk with commissioners May 12, prior to a decision on employment.
Commissioners Rob Francis and Cunningham, who have served as the county’s negotiators with Iola, said a meeting last week was “positive.” McIntosh wasn’t so upbeat. “We’ve been trying to accommodate everyone and I’m turned off by the lack of concern from Iola,” he said.
Richey asked why the county was subsidizing Iola’s service this year, giving them $80,000, and why, as it seemed to him and others, the county was subsidizing Iola’s fire department while volunteers elsewhere in the county were left out.
The $80,000 was previously approved, Works said, anticipating “something would be worked out.”