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EMS official: Less than adequate service provided

Harrison County Emergency Medical Services Director Gary Kleeman requested permission from the Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night to move forward with a proposal to add two EMT positions, which would provide another available ambulance during peak hours (noon to midnight).
‘The bottom line is we’re providing less than adequate service at this point in time,’ Kleeman told the board.
He said a good figure to follow is one ambulance for every 10,000 residents.
Now, estimates show the county has more than 41,000 residents and only 3-1/2 available ambulance crews.
‘We need to bump it up a notch,’ Kleeman said.
Kleeman said on a few occasions they’ve had calls for an ambulance run but no ambulance available.
‘Multiple times we’ve lucked out and someone was in the office and able to throw a truck together,’ he said. ‘Sooner or later there’s going to be a bad outcome.’
The county’s population has continued to rise, causing the EMS calls for service to rise along with it.
The EMS staff has not increased in 10 years.
‘And you can see the results of that with the response time,’ Kleeman said.
Response time averages are the gold standard to measure EMS departments, he said.
The percentage of runs that take more than 10 minutes to arrive has increased in 11 of the county’s 12 townships (the exception is Boone) since 2009, according to data compiled by Kleeman.
With the yearly Medicaid checks to EMS expected to be about $105,000, Kleeman said they’ll be able to pay for the two new positions.
The two combined positions will cost approximately $82,000, he said.
‘Hopefully, it’ll reduce response time,’ Kleeman said.
The commissioners said Kleeman should inform the council of the proposal because the county funds the EMS shortfall each year.
‘I think it’s a good idea,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said.
Kleeman mentioned two EMS officials who received awards this year: Jeff Melvin, 2015 EMT of the Year, and Ramsey Vance, who was named a Healthcare Hero by the Indiana EMS for Children for his work with car seats.
In other business, the board made a motion to classify all elected officials as full-time, meaning they’re eligible for insurance and PERF.
‘That’s a tough one to make,’ Ethridge said of the motion. ‘I don’t think I can make it. I may second it, but I’m not going to make it.’
In 2013, the commissioners unanimously voted to not allow insurance for elected positions they thought were part-time, including themselves, councilpersons, surveyor and coroner.
‘It’s inherently unfair to the taxpayer, that’s what I think,’ Ethridge said.
Commissioner Jim Klinstiver agreed, and said the state is forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.
According to the Affordable Care Act, anyone who works 30 hours or more is considered full-time.
‘The council has made the claim they do work 30 hours a week,’ Ethridge said. ‘If that’s the case, then they’re entitled to health care. I have nothing to refute the fact they work 30 hours.’
With that, Ethridge made the motion to reinstate those positions as full-time. It passed unanimously.
Ethridge and Commissioner Kenny Saulman said they would not accept the insurance, as did Councilwoman Holli Castetter, who was in the audience.
‘It’s a sad day,’ Ethridge said. ‘I have to wonder if this is an unintended consequence of Obamacare.’
The commissioners next meeting will be Monday, Jan. 4, at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.