By Melissa Conrad Rushville Republican
---- — In a 4 to 1 vote, the Rushville City Council approved a city-run ambulance service operated by the Rushville Fire Department expected to begin Jan. 1, 2014. Voting for the measure were Council president Bob Bridges and members Craig Smith, Brad Berkemeier and Brian Conner. Member Brian Sheehan voted nay.
RFD Chief Chuck Jenkins said, prior to the vote and in response to Council questions, “For me, it’s as simple as taking two of my firefighters and putting them in an ambulance.” The fire department already goes out on most ambulance runs and 12 firefighters are certified for basic EMT support; two are qualified for advance support. No additional manpower would be needed to provide basic life support services from an ambulance that would be added at RFD serving city residents with transport to RMH, according to Jenkins.
“The vote … moves the Rushville Fire Department one step closer to providing a quality, cost effective and efficient ambulance service to the citizens of Rushville by using cross-trained dual role firefighters/emts. The citizens of Rushville can expect the same quality service that has been provided to them since 1873. I am looking forward to moving this new service forward in the coming months,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins has visited a number of other fire departments who operate ambulance services throughout the discussion process and has been a proponent of the ambulance service being provided through the Rushville Fire Department for decades.
The revenues would be user-based and Chief Jenkins believes that in one year the city would realize net revenues of $50,000 conservatively.
A number of people who currently work for the ambulance service run by Rush Memorial Hospital were in attendance but did not offer any comment when asked by Council.
The vote follows approximately 18 months of discussions between city, county and hospital officials. While not all are in agreement, Mayor Pavey and other members stressed during the motion process that they intended to be open to continuing discussions with others impacted by the decision.
Sheehan explained his nay vote saying, “My concern all along has been that that net revenue of $50,000 would be at the expense of the county or the hospital.” He continued saying, “If we do something that earns us $50,000 but loses them $100,000, city residents pay county taxes as well. That’s still something that I haven’t heard a good solid answer that, I believe the answer only comes from the city and the county actually working together.”
Jenkins responded, “I agree 100 percent, but I’m going to be honest, I don’t believe that’s going to occur.”
Sheehan said he understands both sides of this issue and said it would have been a dereliction of duties not to have at least considered this given the budget issues faced by the city. He urged the county to come to the table with the city and continue discussions on the matter as this progresses.
Smith made the motion for RFD to begin providing BLS ambulance service no later than Jan. 1, 2014. Conner moved to open discussion which continued among members and the mayor who agreed discussions with RMH, the county and others would continue, although none of the other representatives present wanted to comment at this time.
Clerk-treasurer Ann Copley reported that work has begun with the state on the city’s budget for 2014. The ambulance service will now be considered as part of budget planning.
In other business, a public hearing without comment was held on the levy system evaluation required for recertification. One contractor, DLZ, submitted a proposal which was accepted.
Mayor Pavey reported that the city signed an agreement with the Indiana Department of Transportation that establishes when US 52 closes for construction, the local alternate route will come down Seven Hills onto Old 44 and then SR 44 in town and Water Street. “When they leave from that project they will go in, evaluate it and probably resurface those roads. So we’ll get some resurfacing,” said the mayor.
Pavey shared that the Rushville Animal Shelter received a positive quarterly report from Dr. Rob Jackman, who performed the evaluation as one of the area veterinarians who oversee operations there.
The Parks Department reported that the Street Department is helping build a shelter at the West End Park.