Sunday, August 20th, 2017

The Marion ambulance dilemma

There is no question the Town of Marion needs an active ambulance service. The Marion Volunteer Ambulance, Inc. answered 300 calls last year, plus responded to mutual calls in adjoining towns when called upon.

Things have changed from the old days when fire departments either teamed up with ambulance corps, or had their own service providing ambulance services.

As costs rose, especially on the medical side, ambulance services became a drain on many taxpayer supported fire departments.

The logical answer would be to provide on-going revenue costs by billing individuals, Medicare and insurance companies.

The problem is that, as part of fire departments, ambulances were prohibited from creating billing. This scenario led to fire departments separating from ambulance services to allow for the use of billing.

Another problem arose when volunteer hours shrank over the decades –  as family and financial conditions changed. Most ambulances found they needed paid staff, especially during daytime hours when most people work.

Since fire departments could no longer house ambulance rigs, Marion, as with other municipalities, had to find a new home.

For the past year, the Marion School District has allowed the Marion rig and staff the use of their bus garage and office space – gratis, but that was only a temporary solution.

To stay viable and work towards the upcoming creation of the combined Walworth/Marion ambulance service, to be called Western EMS, Marion needs to find a permanent home for their rig within the town for quick responses. So far their search has not worked out.

Currently, the Marion Ambulance is financially sound and only hopes to increase paid ambulance coverage in the town, and increase staffing options.

According to Marion Ambulance President, Gloria Lance-Taylor, the service needs a climate controlled garage, bathroom facilities and some office space. The 15 volunteers and one paid staffer have searched the town, looking for a reasonably priced location. “We want the people of Marion to understand the situation. We do not want the ambulance service to go away,” said Gloria.

Anyone with suggestions, or knows a place that would be a good fit to be the new home of the Marion Ambulance is asked to call Gloria at 315-576-6906, or Steve Madison at 315-576-1202.