County pursues ambulance station in Leavenworth
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]
Crawford County is pursuing an opportunity for an ambulance station in the southern portion of the county.
At its Feb. 9 meeting, the Crawford County Council adopted a resolution indicating it is interested in purchasing a property in Leavenworth to be used as an ambulance station.
The county must obtain two appraisals of the property, explained county attorney Marcus Burgher IV, and may not pay more than the average of the appraisals.
The council and board of commissioners have discussed at past meetings utilizing $300,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to go toward a permanent ambulance station in the Leavenworth area.
The property currently under discussion is located at 256 W. Old S.R. 62. There is a house on the lot. The property has been recently purchased with the intent to renovate it and re-sell it. It was formerly owned by the Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Department.
The new owners plan to erect a 34-foot by 36-foot bay garage and have said it would meet requirements for use by the ambulance service. They have indicated they are aiming to complete the project in 60 to 90 days.
Burgher told the council the resolution in no way commits them to a purchase, but allows them to move forward with the appraisal process.
Last year, the county entered a short-term lease with the Southern Indiana Veteran Living and Rehabilitation Facility at Carefree. That agreement provided a place for the crew to be stationed; however, that lease expired Dec. 31.
In an interview Feb. 12, Emergency Medical Services director Tim Farris said a crew is still stationed in the area. The county is renting a nearby property until a permanent solution can be found.
Farris noted the south truck had a higher run volume than the north one in January. That is not typical, he said, noting part of the increase was due to transporting COVID-19 patients from Todd-Dickey Nursing & Rehabilitation in Leavenworth.
Crawford County EMS averages 1,200 runs per year with about 900 patients being transported. Farris has closely examined run volume and response times throughout the county.
“There’s close to 500 runs a year that a truck there would be closer to than a truck sitting here,” he said from his office in English.
With Interstate 64 running through the southern portion of the county, which is also home to Crawford County’s largest manufacturing facility as well as two schools, Farris said an ambulance in the area is vitally important.
“The main reason we want to keep an ambulance in the south is we want to minimize the average response time for any run anywhere in the county,” he said.
In an emergency, Farris stressed, every second counts.
“When you’re having a heart attack, for every second, there’s more and more damage to your heart,” he said, explaining the detrimental effects of a longer response time. “When you’re having a stroke, every second is more and more damage to your brain. The idea is to minimize the response time so we can get you to a facility to take care of your needs as quickly as possible.”
Farris said county residents are grateful to have ambulance service much closer to where they live.
“I’ve been approached by people in that area; they’re concerned about an ambulance coming all the way from English,” he said. “I don’t blame them; I would have those concerns as well.”
Farris said he’s confident the council and commissioners will find a way to ensure an ambulance will continue to be based in the southern part of the county.
“The commissioners and council are very aware of the importance and fully agree we need to do what we can to maintain a presence in that area,” he said.