Commissioners review positive ambulance operations

REED CITY — Having a fourth ambulance to service the northwest quadrant of Osceola County proved to be a positive experience from May to September, according to Osceola County Emergency Medical Services Director Jeremy Beebe.

Details regarding the additional ambulance were presented by Beebe at the Sept. 18 Osceola County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The vehicle serviced the northwest quadrant of the county between eight and 12 hours a day on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and traditionally busy days beginning May 24. It was housed at the Commission on Aging building in Tustin and staffed with a part-time EMT and an on-duty paramedic.

“It was a positive project,” Beebe said. “It had positive effects on the county and EMS employees.”

Beebe said the ambulance was in service for 49 days between May 24 and Sept. 2 and transported 19 patients from the northwest quadrant out of 62 patients it saw in total. In addition, the ambulance responded to transfer calls from Cadillac, Reed City and Big Rapids, as well as calls from outside of the quadrant when the other ambulances were occupied.

The total cost to provide the fourth ambulance was $17,000, which is within the budgeted amount of up to $18,000. However, two factors influenced the lower cost, Beebe said. Because the summer was mild, the ambulance could be housed outside without the engine running to keep equipment cool. In addition, the EMS department was fully staffed, allowing on-duty paramedics to staff the vehicle.

Additional positive results include improved response times for the northwest quadrant, cost effectiveness to use the Tustin location, increased employee morale and decreased employee fatigue.

The cons of the project, Beebe said, is a strain on resources. It became problematic only having three computers for four ambulances on which EMS employees could complete reports and no spare heart monitors in case one monitor failed. As heart monitors are required on all Advanced Life Support vehicles, having the lack of a spare would mean the ambulance with a broken heart monitor could not operate until the equipment was repaired.

In other business, commissioners approved:

A motion to provide additional funds in the amount of $30,000 for circuit court appointed attorneys,

A motion to approve a three-year contract of about $75,000 with Premiere Correctional Service for inmate health care at the Osceola County Jail, and

A motion to approve the bulk purchase of tires for about $5,500 from Cadillac Wholesale Tire for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department.