Citizen board to advise JPs on ambulance service options

Friday, June 19, 2015

Carroll County Judge Sam Barr will appoint seven residents from the eastern half of the county to an Ambulance Service Citizens Advisory Board (ASCAB).

An ordinance creating the board was approved by a unanimous vote of the justices of the peace who were in attendance at Monday's meeting of the Carroll County Quorum Court.

In addition, JPs approved a second ordinance creating a quorum court committee of three to five members that will receive input from the ASCAB and make recommendations to the full court.

Both ordinances were read three times and adopted under an emergency clause at Monday's meeting.

The ASCAB's purpose will be to study issues and options related to ambulance service in eastern Carroll County, including the possible creation of an ambulance district.

The quorum court has the authority to create an ambulance district, but any millage that would be used to fund such a district would have to be approved by voters in each of the affected precincts.

The possibility of creating an ambulance district in the eastern portion of the county was raised after officials with Mercy Hospital of Berryville met with Barr and other local officials in late December 2014. Mercy officials presented Barr with a document showing that Mercy's ambulance service has suffered significant and growing financial losses over the past several years.

In response, Barr authorized a second ambulance service, Ozark EMS to begin operations east of the Kings River. Calls are now dispatched on an alternating basis to Ozarks EMS and Mercy Berryville, which previously had received the initial dispatch on all medical-related calls.

Barr said he believed adding the second ambulance service would alleviate some of the financial strain on Mercy, but Mercy officials say that isn't the case. They cite a growing number of patients who have been unable to pay for ambulance service and say that splitting the calls affects their revenue far more than their expenses.

If an ambulance district is created and a millage approved by voters, providers would have the opportunity to bid for a contract at regular intervals.

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