Today, Douglas County commissioners said they plan to seriously consider improving ambulance service in the city of Eudora without taking on the full cost of buying and staffing an additional ambulance.
City officials outlined the idea Monday evening during a joint meeting of the county commission and the Eudora City Council.
The plan, which is still being fine-tuned by Eudora City Manager Mike Press and Fire Chief Ken Keiter, would involve something called an advanced responder unit — a modified truck or SUV that would carry advanced life-support equipment, but would not necessarily be used to transport patients.
"We would like a fully staffed ambulance in Eudora, or someplace close, to improve ambulance response times to our community," Press said this week. "However we also understand the tremendous expense for a fully staffed life support unit."
Ambulance service in Eudora is currently dispatched out of Lawrence, and the average response time is about 12 minutes, Press said. That's a few minutes longer than the ideal response time — eight minutes — and can mean the difference between life and death for someone in cardiac arrest or or other kinds of medical emergencies.
And while no specific cost figures were mentioned, city officials say they hope to have more detailed estimates when the county begins putting together its 2015 budget later this year.
"We still need to see the numbers," County Commission Chairwoman Nancy Thellman said today. "They didn't present us with any true costs, either what a full-blown ambulance and staff would be, vs. this, vs. doing nothing. But I think they're very serious about bringing a proposal forward."
Douglas County provides ambulance service throughout the county. In the city of Lawrence, however, the county ambulance service merged with the city fire department to create the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical agency, which is jointly funded by the city and county.
The plan for Eudora would be somewhat similar, with the county supplying a one person per shift, to be stationed out of the city's new public safety building, and the city of Eudora or Eudora Township supplying one additional on call firefighter.
County Commissioner Jim Flory said he understands Eudora's concerns about response times, but added that many other parts of the county have similar concerns. And while he would not commit to supporting the plan until he sees the detailed cost estimates, he said he will be anxious to see those details once Eudora officials are ready to present them.