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When will Muncie EMS proposal return?

When will Muncie EMS proposal return?

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MUNCIE, Ind. — The waiting game continues for Mayor Dennis Tyler’s administration to follow up on a proposal to create a city Emergency Medical Service.

Rumors circulated widely before the March 5 meeting of Muncie City Council that the ambulance service proposal would be brought off the table and voted on. Supporters of Delaware County EMS, widely seen as likely to be affected by a fire-based city EMS, urged people to turn out, as they had in previous meetings.

But Muncie City Council did not take the EMS proposal off the table, where it had been placed at Tyler’s request in January.

When will the city EMS plan come up again?

It’s anyone’s guess right now.

“Only the council can bring the ordinance off the table,” city spokesperson Sarah Beach told The Star Press this week. “The mayor cannot. I do not know when the council is intending to bring it off the table.”

Neither does the council president.

“I have no idea when it could or will be brought off the table,” council member Doug Marshall said. “It is my understanding that if it isn’t brought off the table in six months it will no longer be any good.”

Council must act on its ordinance, introduced in December, within six months or introduce another ordinance.

Since a majority of council members are Democrats, like Tyler, there’s been speculation as to why council hasn’t already passed the ordinance.

“I thought by now they would have went ahead and passed that ordinance,” said James King, president of the Delaware County commissioners. The commissioners oversee the county EMS. “There’s some reason they haven’t passed it. I don’t know if he’s got the votes or not or if they don’t have the money to do it.”

In the meantime, city and county officials, including county EMS director Jason Rogers, are monitoring the situation. County officials have discussed the potential impact of a city ambulance service in several meetings since last year.

It’s been estimated that a city EMS service would take as much as 70 percent of the county EMS’ services 16,000 annual runs, prompting severe cutbacks to staffing and services. Opponents of the idea argue that the 40-year-old county EMS performs well and that the effort by city officials to create their own service is a Democratic Party affront to the Republican-controlled county commissioners.

Tyler and Muncie Fire Chief Eddie Bell say a new fire-based service would improve service, shorten run times and create a “positive cash flow” of $1.2 million for the city. County EMS, with 45 EMTs and paramedics, operates on an annual budget of $3.3 million and typically clears an annual profit of about $32,000.

The city could use firefighters, who already provide first responder service, to staff the city EMS or use a contractor.

Even with the uncertainty, King says county EMS will still provide service under a 40-year-old agreement.

“We will continue to supply EMS to the city of Muncie until the mayor and fire chief decide what they’re going to do,” King said. “We will not leave the citizens of Muncie without an EMS service. It will take two or three years for them to get up and running.

“We will continue to provide EMS service to the city of Muncie until the mayor boots us out.”

Keith Roysdon is government watchdog reporter for The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5828 and kroysdon@muncie.gannett.com.

 

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