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Ind. fire chief proposes fire-based EMS plan to improve response times

Clarksville officials are considering options to improve New Chapel EMS response times

By Andrew Harp
The Evening News and the Tribune

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. — Fire Department Chief Brandon Skaggs laid out his vision for the proposed in-house EMS division during the Clarksville Town Council’s work session Tuesday.

Overall, Skaggs said his goal is to improve the response time for emergency services by implementing a 24/7 paramedic-level response with transport capabilities. New Chapel EMS currently covers Clark County.

“We found that the current response times are not meeting national standards,” he said.

Skaggs said the national average response time for an emergency medical call is eight minutes, while the average response time in Clarksville is 11 minutes.

Skaggs said Clark County has two certified paramedics that are shared with Floyd County. He said a paramedic has the training and the ability to provide the best care to ensure a higher rate of survival for the patient, including medical emergencies like cardiac arrest or stroke.

He said the trend is moving away from rapid transportation to a local hospital, and instead bringing in paramedics to the scene of the emergency to work on the patient immediately.

He said that these services would need four paramedics, one of them being a director.

Skaggs said they would like eventually buy a used ambulance for $50,000, and they would need $100,000 for equipment and another $25,000 a year for disposable supplies. $1,000,000 would go toward personnel costs per year.

Considering these costs, Skaggs said that an average EMS run is about $500. If they were to conduct eight calls a day and bill through a third party, they would make around $1.1 million.

Skaggs said if there was a step that takes priority over the other steps in the process, it would be to hire the four paramedics. He said this would cost around $400,000 per year.

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said that private EMS services are unstable and that workers jump around between services.

“With municipal services, you get more consistency and an overall higher level of care,” Yazel said.

Council President Ryan Ramsey said “It wouldn’t be a bad idea” to start a discussion with the Clark County Commissioners and the council.

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