Benton County, NW Health EMS reach agreement
WESTSIDE — Benton County, the cities of Gentry and Decatur and Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services announced on Oct. 17 a new collaboration to serve western Benton County residents.
The new agreement will place three Advanced Life Support ambulances in the west side of Benton County while saving Benton County residents more than $195,000.
The new agreement encompasses EMS services for the fire districts in Sulphur Springs, Gravette, Maysville, Decatur, Gentry and Gallatin, including the cities of Gentry and Decatur.
The city of Gravette will continue to provide EMS services within the city limits of Gravette and Sulphur Springs.
This agreement between Benton County and Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services will begin Jan. 1, 2019.
Complementary agreements between Gentry and Decatur with Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services are scheduled for final approval in the coming weeks with the respective city councils. Those agreements will also begin on Jan. 1.
Currently, Benton County contracts with the cities of Siloam Springs and Gravette for EMS service on the west side of unincorporated Benton County. Since 2013, contract costs between Benton County and those two cities have risen from $85,000 to $623,717. The new agreement with Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services is $292,705 per year for
three years, with options for extensions.
“Both Siloam Springs and Gravette have told us their costs for running ambulances into unincorporated Benton County have been rapidly increasing,” said Benton County Judge Barry Moehring. “Our agreement with Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services gives us the opportunity to address those cost increases, while at the same time providing more lifesaving equipment and personnel to west-side residents.”
With the new agreement, Northwest Health will be placing an ambulance in Gentry and in Gravette. Additionally, a Northwest Health ambulance currently stationed at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital will also help cover 9-1-1 calls, expanding EMS coverage in the region. In addition to increased ground ambulance support, Northwest Health will be providing air medical services through AirEvac, its air medical partner.
Siloam Springs will still maintain an agreement with Benton County for EMS coverage in the Siloam Springs Fire District. This is a reduction in the territory currently covered, which includes Gentry, Gallatin, part of the Decatur and part of the Highfill fire districts, in addition to the Siloam Springs district.
The new three-year agreement with Siloam Springs is $141,000 per year, a reduction from the current cost of $429,000, which was agreed to in 2018.
In addition to the contract between Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services and Benton County, the collaborative agreement will include three-year contracts between Gentry, Decatur and Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services. In this agreement, Decatur will pay Northwest Health $35,750 per year for three years and Gentry will agree to pay Northwest Health $72,150 per year for three years. Decatur currently contracts with Gravette for EMS service while Gentry contracts with Siloam Springs.
“The incorporation of Emergency Medical Services from Northwest Health with existing services in western Benton County means that our citizens, neighbors and visitors could experience a more rapid response to their medical needs,” said Gentry Mayor Kevin Johnston. “This could allow more time for patients to receive the most appropriate care from the most appropriate facility in the most appropriate time frame. Coupled with the opportunities for community outreach through resources and educational support, this partnership will continue to show newly recognized benefits for many years.”
“The city of Decatur is pleased with this agreement. Three additional ambulance units located on the west side of Benton County will improve response times and that will be a blessing,” said Decatur Mayor Bob Tharp. “Decatur is a community that has a large number of industrial workers employed in our town at any time. That number increases our current population, so having a stronger ALS service presence will be good. With the projected growth for the cities of Decatur and Gentry, this proposal will enable our cities to provide medical services to our constituents and visitors for the future.”
Gentry Fire Chief Vester Cripps says this addition of service for all of western Benton County will improve the community’s wellbeing.
“The Gentry Fire Department is excited about the possibility of Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services coming to Gentry and providing Emergency Medical Services to the residents of the Gentry area. We are confident they will provide a great service and reduce response times for the residents of Gentry,” said Chief Cripps.
Northwest Health CEO Denten Park says he looks forward to working with Benton County and expanding the health care services for citizens.
“We’ve been blessed to serve Benton County residents for many years with two hospitals and numerous clinics located in the county,” said Park. “We are excited about this new partnership with the county to expand emergency service capabilities for citizens in these communities,” said Park. “To ensure the highest level of care and expand treatment options, we’re proud to provide three advanced life support ambulances with placement designed to improve response times to the western corridor of Benton County. During a medical emergency, every second counts, so this results in enhancing the quality of health care for patients.”
Map showing new ambulance service in western Benton County, beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.