In many senses, Parkersburg’s purchase of three ambulances in order to have one ready to provide emergency medical attention when those from other services are unavailable is simply a logical progression from an arrangement already in place. It is an upgrade of the equipment used by the fire department, which already responds to medical calls when an ambulance from either Camden Clark Medical Center or St. Joseph’s Ambulance Services is unavailable.
It is a good idea, and though it may not fill all the gaps, it will provide another measure of security to area residents.
“Certainly, we would welcome any help when we have a shortage of ambulances,” said Larry Stephens, director of ambulance services for Camden Clark. “Doesn’t happen very often, but once is too much, especially when it’s your loved one.”
However, the number of details to be sorted out in such an arrangement is a bit daunting. Parkersburg Fire Chief Eric Taylor says it will cost $6,000 to $8,000 to outfit the ambulance. What of ongoing annual expenses? How will this expanded service and equipment affect next year’s budget? Will the fire department encourage more firefighters to be certified as paramedics versus emergency medical technicians? How will this affect the department’s insurance costs?
Again, this improvement to the emergency medical assistance available to area residents is an important step. But it requires a level of coordination among the mayor, City Council, the fire department, the other ambulance services and the 911 center that does not leave room for unanswered questions and petty arguments.
Everyone involved must have a clear understanding of the details of bringing this project to fruition, and how it will proceed as an ongoing arrangement – financially and logistically. If the goal is to help area residents, no detail must be left unexamined in making sure this new ambulance will do so.