The emergency medical services of Edwards County will now be handled by Wabash General Hospital.
The Edwards County Board of Commissioners elected to approve a contract awarding the operation of its ambulance service to WGH during its February regular meeting Monday morning. The board passed the measure by a 2–0 vote, with one board member abstaining.
Meeting attendee Jon Webber, of West Salem, expressed concerns about the contract prior to the vote, after the board gave those present the opportunity to comment on the matter.
“You have not really addressed West Salem, Bone Gap or other areas outside of Albion when it comes to this,” said Webber. “You said you’re going to give us better service.
“I want to see it in writing.”
County Commissioner Duane Lear argued that gaining access to the ambulances stationed at the hospital’s Mount Carmel location will lead to improved service for Edwards County.
“You’re forgetting that this is a team effort between Wabash and Edwards,” stated Lear. “There’s going to be three ambulances now, and two of them are going to be advanced life support.”
Webber reiterated that the contract between the two parties called for a minimum of just two employees, or one crew, in Edwards County per shift, and that any further service provided by the hospital should be stated in the contract.
“Put it in writing,” he said.
Lear questioned what Webber meant, with the latter stating that it should be in writing that Wabash General will be providing ALS service to Edwards County as part of the agreement.
“It’s going to be available to us through their ambulances,” Lear said. “It doesn’t have to be in the contract.”
The contract between Edwards County and WGH does not mention advanced life support services.
Commissioner Matt St. Ledger reaffirmed the commission’s opinion that working with Wabash General was in the best interest of the county.
“We don’t think that we will ever get a paramedic service providing the same management and services that we have now,” said St. Ledger. “We think partnering with a larger entity will provide us with the opportunity to provide better care for our citizens.”
Earlier in the meeting, a statement submitted by the Edwards County EMS Board was read Edwards County Board Chairman Davis Messman regarding the contract.
“We are informing you that we have decided to not hold a formal vote as a board,” Messman read from the statement. “Please see some of our reasons below.”
The statement noted the EMS board’s opinion that the decision to move forward with the contract had already been made, and that a vote from their board would serve no purpose.
“From what actions we’ve seen in the last few months, it seems like any vote would ultimately have no influence on the commissioners’ decision.”
The EMS board did state that they believe the county board is trying to work in the best interest of the county, regardless of whether the former board agrees with the county’s final decision.
“We trust that, as elected representatives of the county, that you are making decisions in the best interest of the county,” the statement read. “Or at least what you believe to be in the best interest of the county.”
The statement also made a formal request for insight on how the county would like to utilize the EMS Board in the future.
“Going forward, we do request that there be clear communication regarding the functional purpose of the EMS board.”
Messman himself read from a prepared statement prior to the county board voting on the contract.
“We hope this shift will benefit employees by providing more advanced opportunities through continued education and also providing better benefits,” said Messman in his statement. “It is our utmost goal to provide quality EMS service to the citizens of Edwards County.
“EMS is one of the most important services the county can provide.”
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