By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
The Ambulance Authority held their first of four informational meetings to discuss the proposed excess levy tax that has been placed for vote on the November ballot. The meeting was held in Canaan at the Canaan Valley Volunteer Fire Department hall with an estimated 18 to 20 people in attendance. Ambulance Authority member Lenora “Nora” Howell presented the audience with a slide presentation containing information regarding the EMS services in Tucker County.
For the fiscal year of July 2021 to June 2022 the number of EMS calls classified by the 911 call center were a total of 1,281 or an average of 3.5 calls per day. There were 721 calls for medical treatment, 179 call for personal injury, and ski accident calls totaled 19. Motor vehicle accident calls totaled 131, total fire calls were 31, non-emergency transports totaled 24 and other calls were 176.
During this fiscal period there was an EMS ordinance fee in effect that helped fund two stations and maintain enough staffing for two EMS crews running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This enabled a paramedic to be available on every shift and crew morale was good. Hiring and staff retention were also at a good standing point.
The current status of the EMS has only one station with two crews some of the time and a paramedic four days out of the week. There are 10 staff members on the rooster including two paramedics, 7 EMTs, and one driver. Response times have increased putting people’s life in danger. The EMS crews can not handle all of the calls coming into the 911 call center. For the previous year there were 21 calls handled by EMS crews from outside the Tucker County area. July and August of 2022 there were 20 for the two months alone.
The future goal for the EMS is to have two stations fully staffed with advanced life support (ALS) capabilities. With a budget shortfall of over $400,000 the proposed excess levy tax would enable the EMS to fill in the gap of funding needed to fulfill that goal.
The levy, if passed, will be placed on a resident’s tax bill for the upcoming four years and is based upon the county’s total assessed values of homes, business, farms, personal and business property. The total tax collected county wide will not exceed $401,000. Assessed is the total appraised value multiplied by .60 but some residents will qualify for a homestead exemption that could further reduce their value by $20,000.
The authority has set plans in motion for the future goals of the EMS. Internal improvements are necessary for a positive and successful EMS going forward. The goals include managing the budget with the help of a certified accountant that will enable the EMS to track the financial metrics of the budget. There are plans to explore better billing and collection processes.
Finding and applying for more grants to help offset the financial cost of equipment or training is being accessed. Data analysis and information sharing are on top of the list of improvements as well looking at adding a non-emergency transport service to add revenue.
The authority has already begun to reorganize and modernize the employee personnel, policies and practice procedure manuals. The Ambulance Authority’s by-laws are also currently getting a make-over and up-dated.
All this information and more will be discussed further in the upcoming pubic meetings scheduled by the authority. The next meeting is set to take place at the St. George Clinic Pavalion on October 18 at 6:30 p.m. The following two meetings will take place on October 25 at the Davis Fire Hall and on November 1 in the Courthouse Courtroom in Parsons. Both meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. as well.