Commission buys new ambulance for defunct Marion unit
Primary ambulances will be restored to Florence and Marion within about 60 days, thanks in part to an anonymous donor willing to fund repairs to the Florence unit.
Emergency Management Services Director Brandy McCarty has been shuffling emergency vehicles around since the engine in the Florence unit developed a crack. Marion’s backup unit was sent to Florence, but recalled last week when Marion’s primary ambulance went down with the same engine problem.
Florence is using a retired ambulance on loan from the city of Marion, which provides full first-response capability but cannot transport patients.
As county commissioners started considering three bids for a new ambulance, McCarty told them of the Florence benefactor.
“I called the gentleman who was willing to donate to get it fixed, and he said he would donate up to $15,000,” McCarty said. “He’s been known to donate for several activities in Florence already. His family has roots in Florence.”
“That would pay to get that engine fixed,” EMS advisory board chairman Gene Winkler said.
The type of ambulance Florence has is no longer manufactured, lowering its trade-in value, and one of the bidders on the new ambulance refused to accept it as a trade-in.
While some reservations were expressed about outfitting the Florence unit with another engine like the two that recently failed, commissioners decided accepting the donation for the repair was the most cost-effective and expedient way to get a full-service ambulance back in Florence.
Commissioners agreed to fund any expense in excess of the donation.
After sorting through the options for new ambulances, commissioners chose a vendor that can fill the order in 45-60 days over a competitor that would require six months.
Commissioner Randy Dallke revisited a proposal made by McCarty to purchase a smaller transport ambulance, an idea commissioners rejected before the Marion ambulance went down.
“I researched and talked to some people,” Dallke said. “Even though I didn’t originally like the idea, what about one of these transfer ambulances?”
Dallke said saving $40,000 to $50,000 by purchasing a van-like transport ambulance instead of a full-size unit deserved consideration, and that the type of calls it would primarily handle, hospital transfers, made the size constraints reasonable.
“I don’t think you want one of those as your main unit to be going every day on call,” Winkler said. “I wouldn’t ride out of it every day.”
A transfer ambulance isn’t an option with two primary ambulances being down, but Winkler agreed it deserved consideration when the time comes to replace another unit.
“If you used it for every transfer in the county, I think you’d get along fine,” Winkler said. “For transfers, those patients are usually stable. It could still be used for emergencies if you need a second unit at the scene.”
Dallke reaffirmed his stance on a transfer unit by voting against the purchase of the Osage unit.
“I think it’s time for us to look ahead and make some changes in our spending,” Dallke said. “Regardless of what we want, I think we should go to them.”
In other business:
- Commissioners approved a request by McCarty to pay EMS secretary Jamie Richmond for 80 hours of compensatory time she accrued during the transition between department directors.
- The realignment of Nighthawk Rd. at 130th Rd. will require additional assessment after determining a permit will be required for dealing with a natural gas line running under the roadway. The required engineering study will add an undetermined amount to the cost of the project.
- Marion VFW Quartermaster Bill Keith requested a letter from commissioners indicating their approval of a beer garden for the county lake bluegrass festival in June, which he said the club needs to file with their application to the state to be the vendor for the garden. Keith said the club has insurance sufficient to cover the one-day event.