By Judge-Executive John Logan Brent
Change has been the norm when it comes to Henry County EMS. Over the last 10 years, we have seen the service evolve from a part-time, paid day service to a 24/7 paid service with paramedics. Not so long ago there were dozens of volunteer EMT’s with ambulances stationed in the county’s four biggest towns. Today there are less than a handful of volunteers and they assist the county with runs. These folks make a modest per diem and are an important part of our service.
Today’s EMS service will make more than 2,000 emergency and transport runs this year. In order to make these runs, we need two on-duty ambulances and one back up in operation. We keep a staff of approximately eight full-time and 30 part-time employees. The part-time employees work anywhere from three days a week to one day a month.
The cost of running the service averages around $840,000 a year and makes up about 22 percent of the county’s general fund budget. Because the county never receives enough insurance reimbursements to break even on the emergency runs, it is critical that we have a good base of non-emergency transports to keep the service financially stable.
Four years ago, the county had three dialysis transports that were bringing in enough revenue to allow us to break even for the year.
Patients must show medical necessity and have a doctor sign off to be transported by ambulance.
Two years ago, we did not have any dialysis transports. The result was about a $300,000 deficit to EMS. Of course, this had a major impact on the overall county budget. Thanks to the diligence of EMS Supervisor Josh Jamiel, we currently have six dialysis transports. For July and August of this year, our revenues were up $50,000 over the same two-month period last year. If we can sustain this trend we will be close to breaking even this fiscal year.
Adding new technology to better serve our citizens is a priority at EMS. Just recently, our cardiac monitors were linked to a program called LifeNet Systems. This will allow EMTs to transmit the cardiac rhythm and 12 leads directly to the cardiac care centers in the area. This will further allow for faster activation of the cardiac cath lab and thus a better outcome for the patient.
The Henry County EMS committee consists of Magistrates Scott Bates (Chair), Roger Hartlage and David Brown. The Henry County EMS Supervisor is Josh Jamiel. The EMS phone number is 845-5400.
Switching gears, I will wrap up this week’s column with a solid waste update. When I first took office, we had more than 30 state identified illegal roadside dumps in the county. The clean-up of these, coupled with mandatory garbage, has pretty much eliminated the county’s illegal dump problems.
We average cleaning up less than a dump a year now and what we do clean, a pick-up truck usually will hold. What we continue to battle is roadside litter.
The county has two major litter clean-up programs: weekly inmate labor and the annual countywide cleanup. Last year, the annual clean-up netted 148 road miles and the weekly inmate program netted 120 miles for a total of 2,348 bags of trash picked up.
This year’s annual county clean-up will be the first Saturday in November. We currently have all the teams that the grant will pay to support, however if you would like to be put on the waiting list please call the Planning and Zoning office at 845-7760.
Education and time will be our keys to beating the litter problem. I don’t enter a school that I don’t talk about proper disposal of trash as an important part of being a good citizen. Please talk about this issue with your kids and grandkids. We have one of the most beautiful counties in the state. Together we can make a difference in keeping it clean.