Ambulance merger touted

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March 6, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Eric Sanders is encouraged.
Sanders, paramedic/supervisor with the county’s ambulance service, told county commissioners Tuesday he appreciated efforts to resolve the county having two ambulance services. He pointed out that mergers had occurred in Lawrence and Overland Park that might be models for Allen County.
In each case fire departments (Lawrence and Overland Park) and ambulance services (Douglas and Johnson counties) came together, he noted.
“I think it’s a good place to start, look at what they did,” Sanders said. “There’s no point in reinventing the wheel.”
“I’d be interested in how they’re funded,” said Commissioner Tom Williams, information Sanders said should be readily available, particularly since he is president of the Kansas Emergency Medical Technicians Association and has ties to other departments. Sanders also worked several years in EMS in Miami County, which adjoins Johnson.
County employees “are ready to move on,” Sanders opined, and allowed “there’s no reason this couldn’t be one of the premier services in the state.
“We have good people on both sides,” county and Iola Fire Department, he said.
Williams mentioned it would be an advantage to have some public works employees trained as first responders. They are out and about throughout the county and in some cases would be nearby when a call for medical assistance came to 911 dispatch.
Sanders agreed and observed Allen Community College could have a role in preparing first responders, who would assess a patient’s needs and perhaps administer some treatment ahead of an ambulance’s arrival.
“The CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members also could be first responders,” he said.
Several classes have been held and the CERT presence is growing, through the efforts of Pam Beasley, county emergency management director.
Sanders said a merged service likely would lead to more county personnel, many who live out-of-county, making Allen County home.
“For the last two or three years they haven’t known whether their jobs were safe,” he said, a concern that would be alleviated by stability of a merger.
“Allen County even could be a training ground” for ambulance crews, Sanders added, because of ACC and the new Allen County Hospital, which will open in the fall.
But, before any thing concrete can develop, Sanders said some accord must be reached with the two ambulance services.
“It’s like apples and oranges right now, with fire-based and county-based services,” he said.
A necessity for resolution is to keep contention off the table, Sanders added. “Everyone’s ready to get something done.”

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