County should support quicker ambulance responses

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We don’t have statistics to back us up, but feel it’s safe to say people in general are reluctant to voluntarily pay more taxes.

If we did have stats, we’re sure we could show that most of the approximately 45 people who assembled in the commissioners room at the county courthouse Jan. 23 were a statistical anomaly. As we reported Jan. 30, all or nearly all of them raised their hands when County Councilman Ron Crawford ask-end at a meeting Jan. 23 how many would support a tax increase to fund ambulance service based at the county garage.

The makeup of the crowd itself was a statistical anomaly – they weren’t typical of most county residents. They were nearly all rescue workers and Crawford speculated most of them were from the northern part of the county. We suspect, however, that much of the county’s general population would support their cause.

Because of their calling and the assumed locations of their homes, their opinions on the issue carry a lot of weight. They, after all, are the ones first on the scene of incidents whose outcomes – life, death and a wide range of crippling injuries in between – can depend on how quickly an ambulance arrives.

Ambulances serving Perry County are based in a building next to the Perry County Memorial Hospital. Because Tell City is small, that’s not a bad location for victims inside the city’s boundaries. But getting to other areas of the county from there steals precious time even when traffic and weather conditions are good.

Except for interior walls to create living, eating and lounging areas, the garage was built to accommodate the medical professionals who staff the ambulances. Also included in the building’s construction in 2000 was a plan – some residents call it a promise – to house ambulance crews there. Rescue trucks are staged there and a dispatch console is available in case something happens to the Tell City Police Department from which all of the county’s emergency calls are dispatched.

The county garage’s central location in the county was chosen wisely, according to comments from Commissioner Tom Hauser, with easy access to other main roads such as Indiana highways 37 and 70 and French Ridge, Leopold and Locust roads.

The county council voted to approve up to $20,000, but members – rightly – questioned other costs that might appear before them later for staffing. Like the council, we’re nervous about what that expense might be. As its members pointed out, we have to ask whether we can afford it as expenses rise and funding is cut.

But as one audience member pointed out, another question is important to ask.

“What’s a life worth?”

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