Slaugh urges county to come back to the table

City Council member Carl Slaugh is asking county commissioners to find a way to work with the city on the ambulance contract, even as both sides have started to go their separate ways.



September 23, 2021 - 10:02 AM

Carl Slaugh Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Carl Slaugh isn’t ready to give up. He believes it’s not too late to mend the relationship between the city and county when it comes to the ambulance service.

Slaugh, a City Council member who spoke to Allen County Commissioners on his own behalf, asked them on Tuesday to reconsider their plan to switch ambulance providers.

Commissioners announced on Aug. 17 they planned to negotiate solely with American Medical Response for its EMS service, ending its relationship with the city’s combined fire and ambulance service when the contract expires Dec. 31.

But that’s not a done deal. Details are being negotiated.

And until a contract has been signed, Slaugh believes there’s still an opportunity for city and county leaders to resolve their differences. 

The AMR bids ranged from $1.2 million to $1.45 million, while Iola’s options ranged from $1.4 million for the same level of service it currently provides, to as much as $1.98 million for increased service and having the city purchase future ambulance units. 

City Council members voted on Sept. 13 to keep their own ambulance service, even though it will cost the city more. Estimates show a projected shortfall of $430,000 in 2022, without adding the cost of purchasing a new ambulance.

“I think the city can perform EMS service for less than AMR,” Slaugh told commissioners at their meeting Tuesday. 

THE BIG sticking point, and what seems to have prompted the county to explore other options, is the city’s mutual aid protocol.

Commissioners Jerry Daniels and David Lee noted that at least three times since April, an ambulance was not available for medical calls in the county because they were all stationed at fire scenes.

In particular, they noted a fire in Iola in April. Service on a medical call for a Moran resident was delayed, even though Moran has an ambulance station, but it was at the Iola fire and one had to come from Neosho County.

Slaugh insisted there is still room for negotiation.

Commissioners said they would be willing to continue the conversation but didn’t indicate whether they were open to changing current trajectory regarding the switch in providers.

IN OTHER news:

Emergency Management Director Jason Trego presented bids for five emergency shelters that would be installed in some of the smaller communities: two in Savonburg, and one each in Mildred, Petrolia and Carlyle. Trego received bids from Protection Shelters LLC. It would cost $228,500 for five 10 by 24 concrete shelters, or $178,725 for five 10 by 16 shelters.