The Starke County Commissioners have recommended a funding source for a new ambulance, and now it’s up to the county council to act. EMS Director Keith Emigh says the trucks in his fleet range from 1998 with a 1988 box to a problem-free 2013 rig with 58,000 miles. A 2003 ambulance with 167,000 miles and a 2009 truck with a history of mechanical problems round out the fleet.
He told the commissioners Monday night he’s been calling dealers and getting quotes for a truck to replace at least one of the older ambulance and added he would like to develop a replacement schedule for future purchases.
Emigh adds operating a full-service EMS department requires a commitment. He says taking transfers from Starke Hospital to LaPorte or elsewhere adds up in terms of mileage, wear and tear on the trucks.
The county’s last ambulance purchase was made in 2013.
“I really need an ambulance. I’d like for you guys to either figure out where to get the money from, what budget.,” Emigh said.
Auditor Kay Chaffins says the rainy day fund can be used to purchase an ambulance if a supermajority of the council agrees to a transfer. There’s a balance of $1.5 million in the fund right now. Emigh says he’s been bounced around between the commissioners and council for too long.
“You tell me what you want me to go look for or what you want me to buy, how much you want me to spend, and I will nail it down. But I’m not playing the game of me calling eight more dealers and saying ‘hey, guys, they’re going to give me an ambulance’ and then when it comes out as $130,000 you guys said whoa, I don’t want to spend 130,000. The I’m back to square one again,” Emigh said.
The commissioners formally recommended the council take money from the rainy day fund to buy an ambulance. They also urged Emigh to look at demo models and used trucks in order to save the county money.