As of December 31, 2015, Switzerland County will no longer have a permanent, long-term ambulance service.
According to Commissioner Josh South, after months of negotiations, the county and Switzerland County EMS were unable to come to an agreement on a portion of a new contract sent by the Switzerland County commissioners.
South says that, among other things, the commissioners asked for voting rights for a commissioner member and council member on the Switzerland County EMS board, and for the creation of an additional board made up of the trustees of each township which would collectively have one vote on the Switzerland County EMS board.
South says the reasoning for the commissioners asking for these voting positions, is due to the fact that the county funds approximately 50% ($442,500 annually) of the Switzerland County EMS’s operating budget, and, the commissioners felt it necessary for the county to have some input on the board of directors for SCEMS.
South says that the relationship between the county and Switzerland County EMS has never been that of traditional contract services, in that, the county has purchased vehicles, equipment, housing and supplemented major repairs in addition to the $442, 500 annually.
South apologized to the county residents that an agreement was not able to be reached.
As for EMS for Switzerland County…South says Kings Daughters Health has agreed to provide 24/7 EMS coverage for Switzerland County on a temporary basis, until a long-term solution can be found.
Commissioners Josh South and Steve Lyons spoke with KDH on Tuesday morning and worked out the details of their interim engagement. KDH will have a crew, consisting of EMT’s as well as a paramedic, and an ambulance stationed at the Swtizerland County Sheriff’s Department starting at 12:00am (midnight) Friday morning (1/1). Commissioner Lyons says that Sheriff Nathan Hughes has been great help and has offered to provide the housing for a 24/7 crew until different arrangements can be made.
Commissioner Lyons also said that should an ambulance be in use in Switzerland County, KDH will send another ambulance to the county, fully staffed, so there will always be an ambulance with a crew in Switzerland County at all times.
Commissioners South and Lyons both say that they are awaiting proposals from EMS companies who may be interesting in providing long-term ambulance service in Switzerland County.
We will continue to update this story as negotiations continue.