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November 2, 2013

Logansport, Cass County discuss LFD ambulance

Rural/Metro manager: Personnel being retrained

Logansport and Cass County officials discussed in a joint meeting Friday how an ambulance for the Logansport Fire Department would improve emergency medical services in the area, which many say is mired by slow response times and a lack of equipment from the county-contracted provider.

Cass County currently receives ambulance services from Rural/Metro, a national emergency service company that filed for bankruptcy protection late this summer. The county and the company are about 18 months into a five-year contract that requires no tax dollars, as the company operates on funds collected through patient billing.

Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin and LFD members lobbied heavily for an ambulance for the fire department during 2014 budget talks, saying firefighters were often beating Rural/Metro to calls, describing instances of patients waiting 20 to 40 minutes for an ambulance and referring to cases when paramedics arrived without the proper equipment.

Logansport City Council approved $100,000 to be used for a command vehicle and ambulance for the fire department when passing next year’s budget in October. In light of several council members’ concerns, Franklin requested more discussion on the matter and said the actual purchase of the ambulance would rely on further council approval.

Rural/Metro’s Cass County location has two advanced life support ambulances. Jeff Slusser, Cass County operations manager for Rural/Metro, said one ambulance always remains in the county, while another is at times used for transferring patients from Logansport Memorial Hospital to hospitals in Indianapolis. Slusser said longer response times are inevitable when one ambulance is out on a transfer and several emergency calls start coming in at around the same time.

“Most counties your size would have more ambulances, but they would be based in volunteer ambulance services,” Slusser said.

In an interview after the meeting, Slusser said, “As an [emergency medical services] professional, I would be 100 percent in favor of more EMS resources in Cass County,” adding that it was now in the hands of the local government. “Hopefully we’ll have a seat at the table.”

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