Plans for new ambulance station in Meriden move forward

by Dennis Sharkey

Commissioners gave the go ahead to construct a new ambulance sub-station in Meriden.

Ambulance Director James Tweed was given permission to begin developing plans for the substation. Once plans are approved Tweed will be given the green light to let bids for construction.

ambulanceEarlier this year commissioners bought a building from Rock Creek Fire District in Meriden for $1.

After the purchase Chairman Richard Malm said there was no time line for opening a substation citing lack of funding. However, on Monday Tweed and most of his full-time crew went before commissioners to express the dire need for the station.

“We’re busier than we’ve ever been,” Tweed said.

The department is pacing to transport more patients this year than in any other year and the summer lake season has just begun.

Only five full-time paramedics are currently employed but Tweed has been given permission to hire a sixth that is a replacement for a recent departure. The department also employs several part-time workers.

With those numbers the department only runs one ambulance crew 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If a second ambulance is needed, a second crew must be called into the station. Many times Tweed is the second option.

Tweed said secondary calls have risen this year. Last year one in every 10 calls was responded to by a secondary crew. That number has changed to one in every seven calls this year.

“It’s a number that keeps going up,” he said.

Response times on average for a secondary call are more than 20 minutes. Tweed said this week a respiratory problem call took more than a 30 minutes to respond to. By the time paramedics arrived it had turned into a cardiac issue. He said the patient had to be heavily medicated on the way to the hospital for survival.

“The question we’re often left with is ‘What if are we able to get there,’” he said. “You know it’s a question I struggle with all the time.”

One solution to response times could be the substation in Meriden according to Tweed. He said they have the money to move forward by putting off the purchase of a new ambulance combined with monies that have been saved totaling $160,000. Tweed told commissioners that early estimates to renovate the building are under the amount they have.

“We think we know what the problem is and we think we know what the solution is,” Tweed said. “You guys have to make the decision.”

First District Commissioner Lynn Luck said ambulance service should be a priority but the obstacles have always been funding.

“You have the money,” she said in voicing support.

Third District Commissioner Roy Dunnaway backed up Tweed’s claims and said he listens to radio traffic frequently and hears the calls.

“This is very important as far as I’m concerned,” Dunnaway said. “They need to get out there and save people.”

Tweed said extra part-time help was already budgeted into his employee line this year. But the hope is to have it staffed with full-time personnel later.

In other actions:

  • Road and Bridge Director Francis Hubbard reported that bridge work on Ferguson Road north of 92 Highway is moving along smoothly. As of Monday crews had removed about half of the deck. The project is expected to take about 60 days.
  • Hubbard said construction of Northwind Drive’s asphalt surface has not been as smooth. He said the project inspector has had problems communicating with the contractor and that no work was done last Thursday or Friday. Hubbard said he expects the project to wrap up by Wednesday.
  • Commissioners approved changes to the employee handbook of guidelines. Most changes were cleaning up old language but one significant change to leave time was made. Employees will no longer be able to take leave time before it is posted.
  • Health Department Director Eileen Filbert said her department is ready to assist in any components of a wellness program for employees. She said in many ways there could be a cost savings to the county.
  • Filbert said maintenance assessments for Sewer District No. 2 Indian Ridge will see an increase this year. Occupied homes’ rates will increase from $190 to $225. Unoccupied properties will increase from $125 to $150.
  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment did a four-day survey of the Health Department’s home health division. The surveys are unannounced. Filbert said the department had no deficiencies.
  • Commissioners met with a representative of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks about a maintenance agreement for a boat ramp on the Kansas River near Perry.
  • The Lucky Spur Saddle Club will meet at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Attendees are encouraged to bring a covered dish and their horses.

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Posted by on May 15 2011. Filed under County, County Commission, Government. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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