Twenty five medics and two ambulances will be added to the emergency medical services crew at the Matanuska-Susitna Borough after the Assembly on Tuesday voted 6 to 1 to adopt it. Population growth is one of the factors in the rising number of calls for emergency medical help.
The new positions include 17 EMT IIs, four paramedics, and four battalion chiefs.
Ken Barkley, Acting Director of the Dept. of Emergency Services described the difference between today’s system with paid, on-call responders and the proposed model with the full time responders.
“The difference would be somebody coming from home. The pager goes off, they’re in bed asleep. So they have to get up, get dressed, rub their eyes, go outside, scrape the windshield, make the hole big enough to drive safely and respond to the station, get in the ambulance and then proceed on from there. The difference is we have people in the station, get on the ambulance and go. The response time, just knowing that alone, is going to be reduced in half,” Barkley said.
The first to be hired come from a list of on-call Borough responders. The remaining on-call responders will help augment emergency response when the Borough is overwhelmed. The earthquake is a good example, he said. Assembly Member Tam Boeve added an amendment that was adopted at the last meeting to retain on-call responders in the new model.
A floating ambulance will be located where high call volumes are in summer and winter, Barkley said.
You can watch the discussion here on the Borough Assembly video under audience participation Ordinance 19-021
More detail is in the former news release here.
“For me, this is a no brainer,” said Assembly Member Dan Mayfield who believes the four fully staffed ambulances cannot service our Borough “We’re culpable actually if we don’t provide the public with a level of emergency services that they’re due. I honestly think we need eight ambulances but that’s an argument for a future date. Six is a good step through the door.”
Assembly Member Jesse Sumner said he’d be watching the budget but supports it. “I don’t think this is an inappropriate expenditure. It’s a legitimate service that the Borough is providing with our tax dollars. It seems to me we’re getting fairly good value for the numbers I was presented, if correct, for the increase in service.”
Assembly Member Ted Leonard said he sees the new hires as an investment but wants hard numbers through the year. As we go through the budget I definitely want to see the metrics on call times, wait times and how much this investment would make a difference, he said.
Assembly Member George McKee voted no. Everyone is saying investment, he said, but we should be saying taxation on the record.
The cost to hire would be revenue neutral this year but would cost $200,000 to $250,000 more each year, which concerned Assembly Members Leonard, Sumner, and McKee.
Manager Moosey told them it’s a budget that will be reduced not padded. “We are going into this next budget and there will be staff reductions, that I’m recommending in this budget. We have to. There’s going to have to be cost reductions based on what’s happening in the state. You give us the spending plan, and we’ll do our very best with this,” Moosey said.
Mayor Vern Halter asked the nearly two rows of audience members who are EMS to stand and be recognized for their good work.
Photos by Office of Public Affairs, Patty Sullivan & Stefan Hinman