The county ambulance service, Medic One, formalized its agreement with Van Buren County Tuesday night, March 27, culminating a meeting with the county Ambulance Board. At the meeting’s end a contract was signed between the company and the county, as well as cities, for service.


Medic One became the county ambulance service Jan. 1 after winning the bid for a five-year contract. The contract was formalized and then presented for signature after the Tuesday meeting.


In the course of the meeting the board discussed availability rates for ambulance service. Concerns were expressed in two areas here, the first being ambulance availability for Fairfield Bay, the second being overall ambulance availability in the county. Availability rates were presented by 911 Coordinator Judy Wells, using dispatch records.


Fairfield Bay EMS Captain Andrea Notz, a board member, presented how accessibility was affecting that city. With the city volunteer ambulance service now on 24 hours shifts. Helicopter transports had also gone up in lieu of ambulance availability, she said


Medic One President Ryan Kibler said with the contract execution steps would be taken to move an ambulance closer to Fairfield Bay, one of the county’s population centers. The previous service had kept an ambulance near Shirley in order to better service Fairfield Bay and Medic One was planning on moving an ambulance to that same location. The delay in moving an ambulance there was due to there not being a contract in place, Kibler said.


With the contract execution he expected an ambulance move to Shirley in the coming week, Kibler said.


Overall ambulance availability was seen as positive by the board. Justice Brian Tatum, board member, pointed out that at times of low availability was also during times of high-call out numbers, in one case with 15 ambulance call outs in a short period of time leading to low availability. In high-volume times its reasonable for there to be low availability, Tatume said.


Tatum, joined by others, including Fairfield Bay Mayor Paul Wellenberger, said they had received complimentary reports from area first responders, including fire departments, about Medic One service.


As the meeting prepared to adjourn Fairfield Bay EMS Deputy Vic Anderson asked to address the board. Doing so, he charged that Medic One had recently not transported a man suffering from edema. The man had, Anderson said, been instructed by his doctor to be taken to the hospital in Mountain View as an emergency in order to meet with a specialist there.


The Medic One ambulance arrived for transport but, upon reviewing the circumstance, told the man he would need to pay $1,700 before they would transport, Anderson said.


The charge was met by a combination of concern and confusion by both the board and Medic One representatives. Doctor Keith Coward, board member, expressed surprise that the transport for a specialist would be in Mountain View, that hospital having lower staffing than the Clinton hospital, he said.


Several board members asked, and Anderson said the event had taken place two weeks earlier. Several board members expressed that such matters should be taken to the board right away, not two weeks after the fact.


Medic One Training Coordinator/Operations Andy Ball said he would look into the matter. Ball and Kibler both, as well as other Medic One staff at the meeting, said this did not sound like anything matching their operations criteria.


Ball, in an interview Saturday, said the matter was mis-represented to the board. They had been called to the patients house, Ball said, but the matter was not an emergency nor an emergency request by a doctor, and the patient decided not to use an ambulance for transport, he said. While the ambulance crew was on site they helped “where they could,” he said, both making the patient comfortable and getting a wheelchair from the attic before leaving.