An ambulance for the Logansport Fire Department was approved in the budget city council passed Monday, however concerns among council members have sparked a desire for future discussion on the matter before a vehicle is purchased.
Logansport Fire Chief Mark Strong said he included $100,000 for an ambulance in the department’s 2014 budget because of what he said was continued poor service from Rural/Metro, a national emergency medical service company hired by Cass County that is currently going through bankruptcy restructuring. Logansport City Council passed its budget, which included funds for the ambulance, on first reading last month.
At its second reading Monday, Logansport City Councilman Chuck LaDow proposed an amendment that would strike the allocation for the ambulance. He said there has yet to be data showing the ambulance would be profitable, adding financial loss is what led Logansport Memorial Hospital to drop its ambulance service last year.
”To add to a program like this would not be cost-effective for the taxpayers,” LaDow said.
Cass County is about 18 months into a five-year contract with Rural/Metro. Because it’s the county’s responsibility, LaDow suggested creating a focus group between city and county leaders to discuss how these services could improve.
Logansport City Councilwoman Teresa Popejoy, who expressed her disagreement toward the ambulance at previous finance committee meetings, reiterated as much at Monday’s city council meeting.
”I have a real hard time placing a financial burden on the citizens of Logansport when the county is responsible for that,” she said.
LaDow said he received statistics from the Rural/Metro branch in Logansport detailing an average response time in the county of 10.6 minutes and less than 10 minutes for the city.
Fire Chief Mark Strong and Captain B.J. Cox contested these claims during the public comments portion of the meeting. They described instances of having to wait for ambulances on emergency calls for up to 45 minutes, ambulances being unavailable and having to drive patients to the hospital in a firetruck themselves.
”EMS in this city is a joke,” Cox said.
A media relations representative for Rural/Metro could not be reached late Monday for comment.
Logansport City Councilman Jeremy Ashcraft said he had concerns regarding the matter as well, particularly over the stark difference between what was told to LaDow and what the members of the fire department were saying.
LaDow’s amendment failed and the money for the ambulance remained in the budget, but in light of these concerns, Franklin expressed a desire for continued discussion on the matter. He said although the money had been approved, he would not allow the purchase of an ambulance for the fire department without the council’s approval.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or email@example.com. Follow him: @PharosMAK