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October 8, 2013

City council approves $100,000 for ambulance for LFD

Budget passes but more talks before equipment purchase.

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.

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