|Putnam County EMS places levy on November ballot|
|Friday, October 25, 2013 12:00 AM|
BY NANCY KLINE
GLANDORF — Putnam County EMS is asking for voter approval for a .65-mill continuing levy on the Nov. 5 ballot. The levy would cost $22.50 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
Steve Odenweller, the Putnam County EMS Coordinator, said the levy is necessary to provide additional staffing to reduce run response times, increase volunteer reimbursement and to increase education opportunities.
Odenweller indicated that recent changes in the economy and the aging of EMS Putnam County volunteers has made it necessary to employ additional full-time EMTs and paramedics.
He said more women working and the increased requirements of continuing education for volunteers put a time crunch on volunteers who try to maintain a full-time job. Also, since 1977, Putnam County has seen a 200-percent increase in run volume, while seeing a decrease in volunteerism.
In 1977, there were 1,559 EMS runs in the county. Last year, the county had 3,090 EMS runs. The number of volunteers in the county in 1980 was 131 members. This number is currently at 103 volunteers.
“Unfortunately, this increased number of runs and decreased number of volunteers has resulted in an increase in response time for EMS calls,” Odenweller said.
In 1992 the average response time in Putnam County was 8.5 minutes. Last year the average was 13.16 minutes.
“We are going in the wrong direction,” the EMS director indicated. “When there is a medical emergency, it is critical that we get there as quickly as possible.”
In 1998, the Medic 300 program was started in the county to maintain emergency care for Putnam County residents. The programs currently provided with this service include a round-the-clock Medic 300, which is a paramedic intercept unit that provides advanced life support. The county also has a round-the-clock Unit 301, which is an EMT intercept unit to ensure a “full crew” available for EMS runs. There is also a Unit 303 EMT, who is hired to relieve the volunteer squad from the burden of non-emergency runs.
All of this is funded by billing for runs. This levy will be the first time the PCEMS has gone to the voters for operating monies.
If county voters approve the levy, the PCEMS program will be able to hire two additional full-time positions 24/7 which would include one paramedic and one EMT. This would decrease current response time and increase advanced life support coverage in the county.
Odenweller said this will provide additional needed responders when a medical emergency occurs.
“Sometimes there is a shortage of volunteers on call in a community when a medical emergency occurs,” Odenweller said. “Then we have to call out to another community for mutual assistance. This increases the response time.”
He said 65 percent of runs are paged out multiple times and/or given to another squad.
“This new crew would respond as ‘backup’ to the volunteers,” Odenweller said. “We are not eliminating our volunteer program, The levy would also provide volunteers with a $2 per hour increase for their hourly reimbursement for time on runs.”
The levy money would also be used to provide community CPR, First-aid and other appropriate courses to aid in the overall well-being of the residents. These funds will also provide additional continuing education opportunities to PCEMS personnel.