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April 15, 2013

OUR VIEW: Taking responsibility is refreshing

It’s been a year since Cass County entered into an agreement with Rural Metro to provide privately funded ambulance service to the area.

When we checked in recently to see how things were going, we didn’t like what we found. Reports of late ambulance arrivals or, in some cases, no arrival at all were rampant. We were told patients were waiting on crews who were lost or coming in from Lafayette. In emergency situations, time is of the essence, and obviously timing was a problem here.

So we went to the source in search of answers. When we contacted the company, we received a refreshing response.

“It was our fault,” said Jeff Slusser, northern Indiana operations manager for Rural Metro.

In this day and age of finger pointing and scapegoats, it was a nice change of pace to hear someone step up to the plate and accept responsibility for a problem.

But acknowledging the problem and fixing it are two different things. And it turns out, Rural Metro appears to be doing both.

Slusser acknowledged staffing and management changes that have contributed to the problem and other changes in progress aimed at correcting it. The new management, Slusser told us, is approaching Cass County as the rural area it is. Previous processes tailored toward metro areas just weren’t cutting it here.

With a limited number of ambulances devoted full time to Cass County, Rural Metro is changing how emergencies and routine transfers are handled. This change, Slusser assured us, will mean there will be a local ambulance ready in case of an emergency.

Slusser said the company struggles with being viewed as “outsiders.” In hopes of fixing that, he said they try to hire local people whenever possible.

We think being honest about the problems and putting the ball in motion on making improvements should go a long way in changing the area’s perception of the service.

We look to the next four years of the contract with Rural Metro with hope that the devotion to providing the best, quickest service possible will continue to be a priority.

We’ll be sure to keep an eye that things stay on course.

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