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  • Bill Raines

IU Lifeline expected to be fully staffed by April 1st for county ambulance coverage

LAWRENCE COUNTY - JANUARY 17, 2023 - According to Valarie Luchauer, Lawrence County Emergency Management Director the IU Lifeline Ambulance Service is expected to be fully staffed by April 1, 2023.

The Lawrence County Commissioners agreed to some changes to the wording of the contract. The county has been working closely with IU Lifeline to provide better ambulance coverage.

The contract will provide three ambulances and a chase vehicle to provide EMS coverage. The county will also provide an ambulance station in the Dunn Plaza, providing the facility free of charge, and utilities.

The Lawrence County 911 Central dispatch will provide dispatch of the ambulances, portable radios, and Mobile Data Terminals for ambulances and squad.

This will include one Advanced Life Support Ambulance, Two Basic Life Support Ambulances and Squad staffed with a paramedic.

IU Lifeline Ambulance is starting six-week Emergency Technician Class that is set to begin on January 23rd with a total of 21 students. Hopefully, on successful completion of the class, the students will be hired at IU Lifeline Ambulance Service.

The four-year contract will be paid partially from American Rescue Funds for the first two years of the contract. The first year at $300,000 and $400,000 the second year, the remaining two years the county will be responsible for funding by other means.

IU Health hospital has also contracted with Heartland Ambulance Service to provide inter-facility transfers from IU Bedford Hospital to other facilities. There may be times, when the ambulances from IU Lifeline may have to transfer patients to out of county hospitals due to severity of injuries or illness.

Shawswick Fire Territory is providing Basic Life Support Ambulance coverage

Lawrence County Fire Territory started their operations on January 1, 2023, and is providing Basic Life Support ambulance service to Shawswick Township. The Lawrence County Fire Territory has already provided ambulance responses within the City of Bedford, and in other townships throughout the county since they began their operations.

Shawswick Township Trustee Millard Jones and advisory board started planning the ambulance coverage for its residents several years ago

Lawrence County Fire Territory is only funded by the taxpayers of Shawswick and Guthrie Township residents, and billing from the services they provide. Lawrence County Commissioners does not pay for EMS services of the fire territory at this time.

The Lawrence County 911 board has set equipment and radio procedures for the Lawrence County Fire Territory to be placed on the 911 system.

In Bedford, the Bedford Board of Works approved a new standard operating procedure to address medical emergencies within the City of Bedford. According to Bedford Fire Chief John Hughes the new policy went into effect at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, night.

Over the last four years, some medical emergencies within the City of Bedford required an ambulance with the closest ambulance being out of county taking over several minutes to arrive.

" We have actually been dealing with this situation for the last ten years, and we needed to put a policy in place," said Bedford Fire Chief Hughes.

" If the ambulance is coming from Sunny Acres Drive, this will still take several minutes for an ambulance to arrive. We wanted something that will help our residents," said Mayor Craig during Tuesday night Bedford City Council meeting.

The department Standard Operating Procedures established a policy with an ambulance or no ambulance available.

The policy states that the Bedford Fire Department will respond to Emergency Medical calls automatically for the following emergencies:

  • Difficulty breathing,

  • Burns

  • Cardiac or respiratory arrest

  • chest pain or heart problems

  • choking, seizures

  • diabetic problems

  • uncontrolled bleeding

  • , traumatic injuries (stabbings, gunshot wounds)

  • overdose

  • childbirth or miscarriage

  • traffic accidents with injuries

  • strokes/CVA

  • unconsciousness or unresponsive patients

  • severe allergic reactions

  • if no ambulance is available

  • if ambulance or law enforcement requests assistance

  • unknown medical issue

" We have already been responding over the last few years but decided to put this procedure in place. We are happy to serve the residents of Bedford," said Fire Chief Hughes.

The Bedford Fire Department has 10 EMT's and one paramedic on duty divided among the three shifts.

Bedford Fire Department will respond to medical emergencies within the City of Bedford

Bedford Fire Department has certification from the State of Indiana as a Basic Life Support non-transport agency.

Bedford Police Department automatically responds with an AED when there is a cardiac arrest, within the city and during other EMS calls.

" The closest fire station will be alerted to these calls," said Mayor Sam Craig.

Bedford Police Department has transported medical patients at times due to lack of ambulances in the city.

The lack of ambulance coverage has reached a critical point, when ambulance response times to a traffic accident on Brown Station Road was over 50 minutes and a air ambulance arriving before a ground ambulance reached the patients.

The Lawrence County 911 board, or the Lawrence County Commissioners did not require an ambulance contract by EMS providers working in Lawrence County.

" We are staying on top of this situation," said Luchauer.

The Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is looking at addressing some of the issues facing EMS providers and communities across the state in this year's legislative session.

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