WCCAD chairman seeks to change state ambulance district law

Friday, January 25, 2013

EUREKA SPRINGS -- After repeated challenges from the public over the years about the Western Carroll County Ambulance District expanding its definition of "ambulance service," Chairman Chuck Olson said he will ask fellow board members to approve a request to state legislators to change state code in that regard.

This item will be on the agenda for Tuesday's upcoming meeting.

Arkansas Code 14-282 outlines the purposes for which an ambulance district is formed, "providing ambulance services to residents of the districts and to prescribe the procedure for assessing the property in the district to finance the services."

But the code does not define what constitutes "ambulance service," and WCCAD has for years funded supplies, vehicles, equipment and training to volunteer first responders, the people who arrive on scene and start providing medical care before the ambulance arrives. In some cases, due to distance the ambulance has to travel, first responders provide critical care. Olson said he would like to see the state expand the purposes of an ambulance district so that WCCAD can use tax dollars to fund what it already does and more.

"It would include first responders, CPR education (to the general public) and things like that," he said. "It would be trying to legalize what we've been doing for years. We've assumed a broader scope."

Olson said he will also ask to expand the board of commissioners from three to five.

If the board approves, WCCAD will send letters to Sen. Bryan King and Rep. Robert Ballinger, asking them to draft legislation to get the state code changed.

Also on the agenda, WCCAD will hear a presentation on Smart911 by Central Dispatch, will clarify the issue of paying for CPR cards for Holiday Island and will discuss funding attendees to the first responder conference coming up in February. Regular monthly reports from the ambulance provider and EMR Alliance will also be heard.

The meeting will take place Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 4 p.m. at the Holiday Island district office at 110 Woodsdale Drive.

The public is welcome to attend.

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  • Hopefully the 2 'new' board members will have ER medical backgrnd. This entity is suppose to be providing an ambulance service, not to be a 'training institution'! Those providing the 'contracted service' should already be trained.

    -- Posted by CommonSense22 on Sun, Jan 27, 2013, at 11:55 AM
    Response by Kate Lucariello:
    Actually, the WCCAD chairman, Chuck Olson, is a first responder with Grassy Knob, and was long before he joined the board. At first, this raised a question of conflict of interest, not monetarily, as the first responders are volunteers, but about whether he would be able to remain objective about funding some purchases and activities outside the boundaries of the ambulance service ordinance. But in practice, Chuck has been the consistent voice to stay within those bounds, which is why he is seeking to change the state code so that expanded services such as first responders can be done legally.

    As for training people, first responders do have to be trained in CPR and first aid, as well as rescue and extrication. In a situation such as ours, when it takes the Eureka ambulance 15 to 20 minutes to reach outlying areas such as Holiday Island, it could - and has - made the difference between life and death to have first responders providing care before the ambulance gets there. Changes to the state code would include first responders and even CPR/first aid training for citizens in the definition of "ambulance service."

  • Seems to me, Chuck is doing a great job. And yes, this is why we pay taxes; for equipment and training. A first responder is only as good as the equipment he/she carries.

    -- Posted by rockpilefarmer on Tue, Jan 29, 2013, at 9:03 AM
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