Life and death

Providing adequate services in rural counties like ours seems to grow more challenging each year because of ongoing funding reductions at the state level. The latest challenge facing Marion County is Emer?gency Medical Services, which may need to move to a full-time model because of an insufficient number of volunteer certified technicians. (See story, Page 8A.)
Our EMS system has about 70 volunteers, five ambulances located in communities around the county and an annual budget nearing $400,000. That sounds like a lot of money for a volunteer-heavy program, but interim EMS Director JoAnn Knak says moving to a full-time EMS system could cost up to $2 million a year for only two ambulances?and the response time to many locations would be slower because of a having one centralized base of operation.
The issue seems like just one more government budget-crunching debate?until you ask yourself: If I, or one of my loved ones, suffered a heart attack or was injured in a vehicle accident, how long would I be willing to wait for an ambulance to arrive? How much is life-saving care worth then?
Our county commissioners are asking the public for input. It?s a quandary. But in this case, it?s also literally an issue of life and death.

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