During Monday’s Muncie City Council meeting, an ordinance was introduced that could add emergency medical services to Muncie Fire Department.
Since 1977, Delaware County EMS has been responsible for the city’s medical calls. If passed, the ordinance would eliminate Delaware County EMS’s role in the city and make MFD responsible for medical calls as of May 1, 2018.
MFD Chief Eddie Bell introduced the ordinance to the city council, saying that if passed, the fire department would run six ambulances out of MFD’s seven fire stations.
“We have had the opportunity to run all of the ALS [advanced life support] runs for the last several years with Delaware County EMS, and we think it is now time for us to step up and take over ambulance service for the City of Muncie,” Bell said.
Bell said that Station 5, which is located near University and Tillotson avenues and responds to Ball State’s campus, is the only station that would not have room for an ambulance unless it moved a vehicle to another station.
Delaware County EMS currently have two ambulances, Medic 8 and Medic 19, located at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, around the corner from MFD Station 5. It also currently has nine transport ambulances, three supervisor non-transport vehicles, a HazMat vehicle and multiple
support units located throughout the county. This fleet of vehicles operates out of five stations, three of which are within the City of Muncie.
The ordinance would make MFD responsible for:
- Non-emergency basic life support services
- Emergency basic life support services
- Non-emergency, advanced life support one services
- Advance two life support services
Since beginning medical first responder runs, Bell said MFD has received no money for any supplies, fuel and wear and tear on MFD vehicles.
Bell said he, Mayor Dennis Tyler and Delaware County EMS director Jason Rogers all attended a meeting about three years ago, where the city asked for $100 per first responder run they made, but the agreement was never signed.
“Chief Bell alluded to the fact that myself, a commissioner and a council person from the county were in a meeting. I was not in the meeting,” Rogers said. “That meeting took place between commissioner James King and commissioner Larry Bledsoe at the time. Chief Bell and I have had conversation about that, and I assured him I was not at that meeting.”
The ordinance will be sent to a committee, where it will find more information and review the ordinance before the next city council meeting.
Residents who came to speak about the ordinance at Monday’s meeting called for transparency and asked for the city council to carefully consider everything on the table.
“As Joe Q citizen, the everyday observer and taxpayer, to hear the RFPs are going to be distributed later this week without the information being the top of mind and be able to be shared with us, suggests to me that folks are pretty sure how this decision was going to go,” one resident who spoke at the meeting said.
Ryan Davis, who currently works for Delaware County EMS with his wife, said he emailed all of the city council members regarding the ordinance but only three responded.
“You guys are elected to represent us, the people of your districts, and I find it very disheartening that you can’t respond to an email,” Davis said. “So I ask that you guys take into consideration the comments that you are hearing from those professionals out here, and I ask that you look at the budget and vote based on what the people in your district think, not what one political party is asking you to do. What is going to be best for the people of Delaware County and what is going to be the best for the people of your district?”
The exact cost of MFD starting a fire-based ambulance service is still unknown. Bell only presented estimates, which included a $40,000 salary for each of the 16 contracted paramedics and $100,000 for each of the six ambulances, before equipment and supplies are installed. Though several argued the estimated costs were lower than the actual costs.
Council members will vote on the ordinance Jan. 8.