A response to the article on EMS
The members of Harrison Township Fire Department (HTFD) would like to respond to the Jan. 17 story regarding the “EMS Fight” and EMS Director Donnie Warren’s comments about HTFD.
First and foremost, Mr. Warren’s comments gave the impression that HTFD just recently contracted for ambulance service, just to avoid using the new county ambulance service. This is not the case.
History of coverage
HTFD was the first area in Morgan County to ever have Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service as our township’s full-time primary response ambulance. This practice in HTFD has been ongoing for over 20 years, not at all something we have just begun doing, as you may have been led to believe from Mr. Warren’s statement.
This ALS ambulance service for our township has been accomplished through contracts, memorandums of understanding and mutual-aid agreements with other fire service agencies located in Johnson County.
HTFD has never needed or called the current county ambulance service (”Morgan County EMS”). In addition, we did not need or call the old county supported ambulance service (”EMA Ambulance”). At no time has anyone, including Mr. Warren, ever contacted HTFD to discuss the use of the county’s new ambulance service.
When the county first wanted to start this ambulance service, a subcommittee from the Morgan County Fire Chiefs Association requested to meet with Mr. Warren to discuss what would be the best approach to implement the new ambulance service in the county. In this meeting, Mr. Warren, who has never run an ambulance service before, took about 10 minutes to explain his plan for the county ambulance. The chiefs association members then expressed their concerns with the plan. Mr. Warren would not take any suggestions from the local fire chiefs, and the very short meeting ended. Mr. Warren never made any further contact with the chiefs association.
The cost of the current ALS service HTFD provides to the taxpayers of the township is included in the 6-cent fire district rate that is currently collected from our taxpayers. This 6-cent rate covers the cost of all fire and EMS activities provided to the township residents.
Morgan County has now added a new, additional 13.9-cent tax rate to Harrison Township residents, to be used only for the Morgan County EMS ambulance service, which the county does not provide to the Harrison Township residents.
HTFD feels that this new 13.9-cent additional county EMS tax the county is collecting from the township residents is nothing more than an unjustified, double tax for a duplication of services that is already being provided at a lower rate.
Quality of service
On every emergency medical call for service in Harrison Township, the HTFD currently provides our residents with a Basic Life Support (BLS) rescue squad with an average staff of two to six local volunteers, depending on the time of day. We also provide an ALS ambulance, which is staffed by one emergency medical technician (EMT) and one paramedic.
The average response time of this equipment to reach a township residence is less than five minutes. If we need additional staff on any given incident, HTFD has the ability to call additional ALS equipment from our ambulance provider, with the same five-minute response time, as well as calling Madison Township Fire for its ALS ambulance.
In fact, the HTFD depth of service well surpasses the entire abilities of the new Morgan County EMS ambulance service in its entirety, both in number of units available and response times to our area.
Minutes and even seconds really count in this business. If a person is in cardiac arrest, having a stroke or not breathing, brain tissue dies every second without intervention. How soon an ALS paramedic can administer a drug is literately a life-and-death or quality-of-life scenario in many cases.
If Morgan County was to provide ambulance service to Harrison Township residents, the closest ALS ambulance they can provide is 15 minutes farther away, stationed in the city of Martinsville. Having the county provided EMS ambulance service to Harrison Township would be taking a 20-plus-year step backwards for the residents of Harrison Township.
In closing, time and money are very important considerations. HTFD currently offers its residents an exceptional ambulance service at a much lower rate that the 13.9 cent rate the county requires for their Morgan County EMS ambulance service. In addition, Harrison Township’s current ALS ambulance service is able to respond and reach patients in a more timely fashion compared to its Morgan County EMS counterpart. Response time is very important when family, friends and loved ones require emergency medical assistance. The current county proposal and plan is not sufficient and will not benefit all residents of Morgan County.
by Harrison Township Fire Department staff | Published Feb 2, 2018 in The Reporter Times