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EMS short an ambulance following crash

Harrison County EMS needs to replace an ambulance following an odd crash this summer. The Harrison County Board of Commissioners approved the county’s emergency medical services leaders to take the request to the Harrison County Council and ask for a more scheduled plan to replace ambulances in the future.
Monday morning at the commissioners’ meeting, Joe Squier, Harrison County EMS manager, told the three commissioners about Medic 1, a 2012 Chevrolet, that is out of service since the start of August.
‘It was a slow-speed crash in the JayC parking lot,’ said Squier, who succeeded Gary Kleeman, following his retirement earlier this year after roughly 25 years with the hospital.
The new EMS manager said his office has been without the ambulance since the early morning of July 31 when the ambulance driver hit a concrete pole near the gas station on the north side of the parking lot.
‘We actually had them on the GPS on the truck at nine miles an hour when the crash happens,’ Squier said. ‘They weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. We got it on video. They weren’t texting on their cell phones.’
Police noted in their report the pole had been hit multiple times before and since the crash has been taken down.
Squier said the driver called him fearing he would get fired.
Commissioner Jim Heitkemper asked if it was a forgivable incident.
‘Absolutely,’ Squier said.
While it might have appeared as a minor issue, the ambulance was a total loss. Its frame had bent and the cost to repair it was greater than the fair-market value of the ambulance, valued at $16.333.33.
Harrison County EMS runs an eight-ambulance fleet throughout the county and has been running down one the past three months.
It’s Medic 1 Harrison County EMS is asking gets replaced quickly as well as a second ambulance in the second half of 2019.
According to EMS, its first quote, for a 2018 Ford F-450, will cost a little more than $223,000 to replace the totaled ambulance. That’s about $50,000 more than the department’s newest truck, a 2018 Ford, which was paid for by Disproportionate Share Hospital funds in July of this year.
‘It’s like a cause report return on Medicaid utilization and how much money the state gets from the federal government,’ Steve Taylor, Harrison County Hospital’s chief executive officer, said Monday at the meeting.
The price is higher because the request includes a heavier chassis and powered stretcher unit, to help move heavier patients and keep workers from getting injured.
The department runs two 2015 ambulances, which were bought in 2016. Each one cost roughly $96,000 and both were ‘remounts,’ which the department describes as when the box of an old ambulance is placed on a new chassis. That’s no longer an option.
‘Chevy and Ford, neither one makes van chassis anymore,’ Taylor said.
Medic 1 was actually the second-most expensive ambulance to maintain, according to Squier. It cost 61 cents per mile to maintain. Medic 4, a back-up truck kept at the Elizabeth station, costs 63 cents a mile to maintain.
‘It has had some problems with the transmission and the rear end,’ Squier said.
Back-up units allow EMS to perform preventative maintenance without taking a station out of service. The county’s central station is without a spare unit following the July crash.
Each Monday, crews use back-up units so maintenance can be done on the primary trucks and to keep the back-up ambulances from remaining idle for too long.
Back-up ambulances also are stationed at large events in the county, such as Lanesville Heritage Weekend.
EMS prefers to replace an aging ambulance after 250,000 miles. In 12 months, the department estimates five units will register more than 200,000 on their odometers.
Now the department wants to get a more regular schedule for replacing units.
Squier said the plan would be to buy two ambulances in year one, one in year two and one in year three. Following that, the schedule would repeat. That’s barring any unforeseen crashes or a significant increase in runs.
Last year, EMS was called out more than 6,000 times, the first time that has happened during the last five years, which is how far back the data was available. The county is on pace to surpass the 6,000 plateau again in 2018.
‘This would ensure no truck is over six years in age,’ Squier said.
Commissioner Charlie Crawford said he thought the council would appreciate EMS providing a schedule to help with planning purposes.
‘They don’t like surprises coming in all the time,’ he said.
Taylor said the county and Harrison County Hospital EMS have had a two-page agreement since 1977, which states the county takes the burden for operation of ambulances. DSH funds that the hospital receives in 2019 would go into capital improvements and could to toward offsetting the cost of another ambulance in the second half of the year.
The Harrison County Council will hear Squier’s proposal at its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at the Harrison County Government Center. The meeting was moved from Monday in observance of Veterans Day.