Opinion: Need an ambulance?
Mike Hawkins was a previous City of Bedford Mayoral candidate last election cycle
In the workplace yesterday, I experienced a coworker having a medical emergency. It was very frightening to watch someone's skin tones transition from a normal flesh to dark purplish blue in a matter of seconds, and the helpless feeling that overcame myself and several others as we watched our friend's body in obvious distress. We quickly agreed that it appeared to be a seizure and were able to clear the area and place our friend on their side. Fortunately, as our onsite medical staff arrived, our colleague was back to normal breathing and while extremely confused, was able to give a medical history to the paramedics when they arrived. While this incident lasted less than fifteen minutes from start to services arriving at the scene, the experience and trauma of watching our friend struggle left all of us in a state of disbelief and shock. We all knew that minute's count in a medical emergency and we all agreed that at that moment we thought we were losing our friend.
As I travelled home after work, my mind went back to the winter and spring of 2019, and the stories that were shared with me while campaigning for the office of mayor in Bedford. During that time, I had several people share with me their experiences with medical emergencies in our community. Specifically, it was discovered that while emergency response times were very good as a recorded average, that ambulatory response was often delayed due to a lack of coverage in the city and county. While private owned company's do have equipment and employees based in Bedford, often that equipment is utilized for contracted transport (or shuttle) services requiring that it be used outside of the Lawrence County area, leaving our local citizens vulnerable. I thought about that campaign pledge I made to address the situation, and realized that to my knowledge, nothing has changed since that time for Bedford. I asked a few questions, and it's my understanding that volunteers at Shawswick Volunteer Fire Department are working to add two ambulatory units to their fleet, and I applaud them for taking this monumental step, and only wish the city of Bedford would follow their lead. It certainly will be comforting to anyone in need of those services to know that they will be available when called upon. I have always supported and appreciated those who serve our community responding to our citizens in need and my statements are certainly not intended to convey otherwise.
Shawswick/Guthrie Township Volunteer Fire Territory plans to staff an ambulance in Lawrence County beginning January 1, 2023
Other communities have faced and developed solutions to the same problem. One such place is Rushville, located approximately 90 miles northeast of Bedford. I remember visiting with Rachel Clark the Deputy EMS Chief and Mayor Michael Pavey for the city, and how collectively they had implemented services on their own for that city of 6,000 citizens. They outsourced (through a lease program) refurbished ambulances and medical equipment, found a third party to do billing and in the process created a program that not only became self-funded, but also generated profits that were returned to the county annually. I remember my excitement three years ago when I was able to share that they were willing to assist and share with our Bedford City Officials a pathway to protect and provide medical response services for our citizens with very limited upfront expenses.
Lawrence County is one of the few counties in the State of Indiana that does not provide an ambulance contract for EMS services. Monroe County does not provide a ambulance contract only one ambulance every so often.
Preparing for sleep last night, I couldn't help but wonder if the next time I see someone in physical distress, will ambulance service be available, and what will the response time be? There has to be a solution.
Michael Hawkins, Concerned Citizen
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