New ambulance agree­ment en­hances life-sav­ing ca­pa­bil­ity on the west side of Ben­ton County

Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION - BARRY MOEHRING Ben­ton County Judge

Ear­lier this month, Ben­ton County signed an agree­ment with North­west Health Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices to pro­vide ad­di­tional ambulance ser­vices to west-side res­i­dents. The cities of Gen­try and De­catur also signed on to this agree­ment for ser­vices within those cities.

As a re­sult, three ad­di­tional am­bu­lances will be dis­patched to emer­gency calls on the west side. Those am­bu­lances will be sta­tioned in Siloam Springs, Gen­try and Gravette.

The agree­ment goes into ef­fect on Jan. 1, 2019, and lasts for three years with op­tions for ad­di­tional terms.

Cur­rently, ambulance ser­vice is pro­vided to all west-side res­i­dents by the cities of Siloam Springs and Gravette. Those cities will con­tinue to pro­vide ser­vice within their city lim­its and, in the case of Siloam Springs, within its fire district bound­ary. Gravette will also con­tinue to pro­vide ser­vice to Sul­phur Springs.

This agree­ment pro­vides for a num­ber of key ben­e­fits for west side res­i­dents.

Three ad­di­tional 24-hours-a-day, sev­en­days-a-week Ad­vanced Life Sup­port am­bu­lances mean re­sponse times will go down for much of the west side of Ben­ton County. There will be more life-sav­ing equip­ment closer to more res­i­dents than there is to­day.

This ad­di­tional equip­ment will also be a tremen­dous ben­e­fit to Siloam Springs and Gravette. Cur­rently, when am­bu­lances from those cities an­swer long-dis­tance calls into the un­in­cor­po­rated areas, those fire de­part­ments must rede­ploy other am­bu­lances to make up for ad­di­tional un­in­cor­po­rated calls. Un­der this agree­ment, those am­bu­lances will be stay­ing in or close to the city lim­its of Siloam Springs and Gravette, so there will be less strain on those fire de­part­ments.

This agree­ment will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on mu­tual aid. Mu­tual aid ba­si­cally means that when the re­sources of one depart­ment are al­ready in use, a neigh­bor­ing depart­ment fills in for the re­spond­ing depart­ment in case of an ad­di­tional emer­gency call. In Gravette, for ex­am­ple, mu­tual aid was called this year in at least 14 dif­fer­ent in­stances from Bella Vista, Ben­tonville and Siloam Springs. Be­cause of this agree­ment, mu­tual aid will be avail­able from the three ad­di­tional am­bu­lances that are al­ready in the area, thereby of­fer­ing an­other means of cut­ting re­sponse time to emer­gency pa­tients.

Fi­nally, this agree­ment saves Ben­ton County tax­pay­ers more than $195,000 in an­nual costs. Be­tween 2013 and 2018, the con­tract costs for ambulance ser­vice be­tween Siloam Springs, Gravette and Ben­ton County have risen from $85,000 to more than $623,000. This is a more than 600 per­cent in­crease. Dur­ing the same pe­riod, ambulance runs have only in­creased by around 20 per­cent.

Th­ese cost in­creases were just not sus­tain­able within Ben­ton County’s bud­get. Ev­ery dol­lar in in­creased con­tract costs for ambulance ser­vice was one less dol­lar for sher­iff’s deputies, county roads or the county jail.

Ben­ton County’s agree­ment with North­west Health Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices was the re­sult of a com­pet­i­tive re­quest for qual­i­fi­ca­tion process. Based on the writ­ten sub­mis­sion and re­sult­ing in­ter­view, North­west Health Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices clearly was the best choice to pro­vide the ser­vice pre­scribed in the RFQ ap­pli­ca­tion. North­west Health Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices stood out as the lead­ing can­di­date for Ben­ton County due to a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing its fi­nan­cial strength and sta­bil­ity, ex­ten­sive EMS op­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with over 80 ambulance systems in other parts of the coun­try and its com­mit­ment to be­ing a highly qual­i­fied and re­spected med­i­cal provider in our region.

Ben­ton County un­der­took a sim­i­lar ac­tion on the south­east side of the county in 2017 which re­sulted in Mercy Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices pro­vid­ing ambulance ser­vice in that region. That process re­sulted in nearly $300,000 in sav­ings to Ben­ton County tax­pay­ers and, sim­i­larly to this out­come on the west side, placed ALS ambulance ser­vice closer to un­in­cor­po­rated Ben­ton County cit­i­zens.

At Ben­ton County, we have an obli­ga­tion to seek out the best EMS so­lu­tions for our cit­i­zens. By ex­pand­ing ALS ambulance cov­er­age, im­prov­ing re­sponse times and sav­ing tax­payer dol­lars, we be­lieve this agree­ment achieves that goal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.