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EMS agency proposes ambulance chase car

The chase car would be available during a mass casualty event anywhere in the county; it could be provided to make up a BLS crew if all other avenues were exhausted

By Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times News

SHORT GAP, W.Va. — The Mineral County Ambulance Authority is expected to vote Nov. 14 on a proposal to supplement ambulance service in the county’s northern end with a paramedic-staffed chase car.

The contractor, Valley Medical Transport of Keyser, would cover an area from Fountain to Ridgeley and include Patterson Creek, according to Colby Simpson, chair of the chase car committee.

“It’s about getting help to people quicker,” Simpson said during a public meeting Monday evening at Short Gap Volunteer Fire Department. “Mineral County is the only county in the state that has all volunteer EMS personnel at this point. It’s a change we were going to have to tackle at some point.”

Wiley Ford, Short Gap and Fort Ashby volunteer fire departments are answering calls at an 85 percent rate, Simpson said.

“What we found is, during the day, there is a significant lack of advanced life support providers in the county,” Simpson said. “There is a significant drop in ability to respond to ambulance calls.”

Five members of the ambulance authority will have to recuse themselves from the vote because they are employed by Valley Medical Transport. The chase car committee requested a written ruling from the West Virginia State Ethics Commission on how to proceed.

“There are still 10 members of the ambulance authority that can vote on this,” Simpson said.

The chase car would be stationed at the Short Gap station and would operate weekdays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The ambulance authority would pay Valley Medical Transport $7,369.33 per month ($88,432 per year) to operate five days a week, 10 hours per day. The cost covers a paramedic from Valley Medical Transport, supplies, use of Valley’s cardiac monitor and any drugs used, Simpson said.

“We are going to pay for this chase car without any burden to the taxpayer and still have money left over to put toward purchases of new ambulances in the future and more purchases of equipment,” Simpson said. “We feel that during the daytime, with the areas included, that it (chase car) would be involved in 250 to 300 calls a year (in the northern end of the county).”

The chase car would also be available during a mass casualty event anywhere in the county. It could be provided to make up a basic life support crew if all other avenues were exhausted.

The cost for the chase car would be covered by the county’s excess tax levy.

“The money is already there, this is one way that the ambulance authority can spend that money,” said Simpson.

Volunteer fire departments that utilize the chase car to either make a full crew on a transporting unit or for a paramedic intercept will be charged a flat rate of $200, with no charge for canceling the unit or placing it back in service. Also, there isn’t a charge for patient refusals for service or lift assists. If a patient doesn’t have the ability to pay the fee, there is an option for a fee waiver, said Simpson.

A 2018 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor would be utilized as the chase car and would be purchased by the ambulance authority at the state bid price of $27,574. The chase car would be leased to Valley Medical Transport for $1.

About a year ago, a request for proposals was sent out and Valley Medical was the only company to submit a bid.

After a year, the chase car system will be evaluated and, if there is a need in another part of the county, the chase car will provide services to the area of need, said Simpson.

If the ambulance authority approves the chase car proposal, it would be placed in service in 12 to 13 weeks. If the proposal is denied, other proposals would be considered, according to Simpson.

Copyright 2017 Cumberland Times News