SEDGWICK, Kansas (KSNW) — Changes are soon likely in the City of Sedgwick when residents call 911 for ambulance services.
According to Harvey County Communications, from May 7 – June 5 last month, Sedgwick Volunteer EMS services had 14 total calls. Of those, only three calls were handled by the volunteer department entirely, without the need to call out or receive assistance from mutual aide emergency departments.
“There are two critical requirements that we’re not meeting right now,” said Mayor Rodney Eggleston. “From the time you receive a call until that ambulance rolls, you’re supposed to be five minutes or less. We’re not meeting that on a pretty regular basis.”
Mayor Eggleston continued, “You [also] need to have a schedule that can accommodate 24/7 coverage. We’re not meeting that right now due to our staffing levels.”
The problem? Mayor Eggleston says it is difficult to obtain and retain volunteers. Currently, the mayor says neighboring Halstead EMS takes care of nearly 60 percent of Sedgwick’s calls.
“They’ve been taking care of a lot of our calls and it’s becoming a burden on them,” Eggleston said.
Mayor Eggleston and emergency staff argue that it’s time to make a decision.
“We have to do something. We’re at that point,” said Eggleston.
Both options come with a cost that could mean an increase in property taxes for citizens of the City of Sedgwick. They are:
- Hire 4 full-time paid EMT’s and build a new Fire/EMS station, or
- Contract emergency services with Halstead EMS for an annual fee.
The mayor is in favor of the first option, which would eliminate the volunteer nature of the current EMS system in Sedgwick.
“We decide that it’s important enough to our community that we hire four EMTs,” Eggleston said. “How much is one life worth?”
On Monday night, the Sedgwick City Council met for their regularly scheduled council meeting. At that time and for the first time, city staff presented the financial estimates for the city’s options for their emergency services, moving forward.
The City of Sedgwick estimates that for the owner of a $100,000 house, the full-time service would come with a monthly tax increase of $23.97.
The total cost, including salaries and the station’s building costs is estimated at $232,095.52.
The second option, the mayor says, is to turn over EMS services to Halstead’s department.
The City of Sedgwick estimates that for the same homeowner of a $100,000 house, this action would come with a monthly tax increase of $17.28.
The annual Halstead contract is estimated to cost $167,292.97.
“It just comes down to what people value,” said Eggleston.
The Sedgwick City Council meets next on June 20. At that time, city staff hope to present the council with the results of a public survey, currently in progress, regarding the EMS issue. If the council approves either option, the tax increases would likely go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
For more information about the City of Sedgwick, visit the city’s website.