Last week, Commissioners Rosenau and Davis voted to do away with the Tucker County Ambulance fee. This decision immediately followed a discussion of the TC EMS finances showing that TC EMS would be bankrupt no later than June 2023. While it is likely that another EMS levy will be considered for this fall’s general election ballot, there will be major changes required to retain a core EMS capability for Tucker County. Even if a levy passes, cash revenue from the levy will not be available until October/November 2023. The Ambulance Authority board will meet to consider the ramifications of the loss ofe funding. It is likely that at some point we will have to consider planned reduced operations to ensure that we can sustain a minimal level of emergency services. This will happen for several reasons. Medical staff are in the process of migrating to other counties/professions where predictable, living wages and more favorable working environments are possible or at least more likely. Without confidence in the Authority to sustain even current payroll levels, it is reasonable to assume that they will be looking for better career opportunities. With the national EMT/Paramedic staffing shortage crisis, they are in demand. As we may be forced to reduce operations to a core capability, we will obviously generate less revenue as we will make fewer runs, further exacerbating fiscal problems. Response times will likely go up, as the average distance to travel from only one station is more than the distances from two stations. In a one station operation, once the first ambulance rolls, there may not be another available until an ambulance is dispatched from an adjacent county through mutual aid agreements if they are available. Yes, reducing staffing, means reduced costs. It also means that there will less trained medical professionals and medical equipment to come to you and your family’s assistance should you have to make that emergency call to 911.
The county EMS s Staff will remain professional in their resolve to provide as much services as resources permit. The Ambulance Authority Board, will manage transparently, while remaining fiscally solvent, to try to retain and attract the best medical staff we can while ensuring the EMS workforce’s economic future and providing continuous service availability to the county residents. The Ambulance Authority will be engaging with the State Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council’s (EMSAC) teams to understand the right sizing of our EMS services to satisfy our county demographics and geographic profile while exploring cost saving/revenue generating and funding strategies. Sadly, the Tucker County Commission did not honor our request to retain the EMS Ordinance Fee in place for an additional year while financial options continue to be explored. The County Commission will have to pursue the consideration of an EMS levy to provide sufficient funds to sustain EMS operations. We will do our best to continue to educate the public in the operational and fiscal considerations at stake.
Tucker County Ambulance Authority, President