Consideration Given to Add Advanced Life Service to Starke County Ambulance Service

A meeting was held last week to consider adding Advanced Life Service to Starke County’s ambulance system. Currently, Starke County is one of only two in the state that does not offer Advanced Life Service to its citizens.

Held at the IU Health-Starke Hospital, the meeting was presided over by former hospital CEO, and current Commissioner Kathy Norem. Kris Rannells is Advanced Life Service certified, and today and tomorrow he will help provide information about this potentially life saving service, and what it will mean to our citizens.

Ted Hayes was at the meeting and asked Kris Rannells, “Where we go from here?”

“Where we’re going with hopefully is what they call a paramedic intercept, which would be a paramedic that would be on staff in their own vehicle,” replied Rannells.  “The ambulance would be called to a scene, either by the type of dispatch that they’re going out on, or if the crew decides they need a paramedic, the paramedic would then be able to provide a whole new level of service to the patient.  They would take the emergency room to them.”

To put Advanced Life Service into the County would mean hiring at least five ALS certified paramedics. How would the County pay for such an upgrade?

“That’s an interesting question and that’s what we’re trying to figure out.  They do it a number of ways.  A lot of times, they have to absorb a little bit of a loss.  They currently are at the level we’re doing now.  The difference is, at the Advance Life support level, they’re able to bill at a higher rate.  They’re able to shrink that gap as far as the discrepancy of what they’re bringing in and what they’re spending.  I think that’s what happens a lot of the time.  There are other options.  There’s funding from a possible partnership with the hospital.  There may be possibilities for funding through some of the money in the government that the Council will have to try and find, or whatever, but there are avenues that we need to look at and try to find.”

The push to add ALS service to the County came about when Starke Memorial Hospital was added to the LaPorte Regional Health System. They realized right away that there was a weakness in the ambulance safety net in the County and contacted Representative Nancy Dembowski, who got the “ball rolling” with the county officials.

Tomorrow, Kris Rannells will talk about how minutes and having the proper personnel on hand can be the difference between “life and death.”