(WASHINGTON CO.) - Washington County is going to operate its own ambulance service.
The Salem Leader reports that the decision was made by the Washington County Commissioners last week.
A committee under the guidance of Commissioner Phil Marshall has been researching the idea and decided it is a feasible option. Marshall says the county owns the trucks and the personnel all are from Washington County.
Marshall added the benefits outweigh any disadvantages and that local banks are willing to work with the county to establish a line of credit.
Billing would be handled by ABS billing service and Marshall says the company would provide monthly reports.
The commissioners will have to approve an ordinance which would include a provision for setting up a board which would provide oversight, similar to the board overseeing the county health department.
That board would include representatives from several groups, including the county council, county commissioners and the sheriff's department, as well as someone with a medical background.
Dr. Mark Manship, a former county councilman and a member of the committee, says the county may not break even the first year, but believes the service could become self-supporting in two or three years.
A county owned and operated service has the support of Troy Nicholson, EMS director, who is also on the committee.
Washington County now contracts with Knox County Ambulance Service at a cost of $280,000 annually. The contract is up Feb. 1.
The ambulance service employs 14 individuals full-time, all of whom live in Washington County, and 28 people part-time , about half of whom live in the county.
Marshall says the local service made 3,350 billable runs in 2012 and 2,960 through October of this year.
The committee has scheduled another meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the EMS building on Anson Street.
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