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County EMS calls reach 11-year high

Six calls per week don’t involve transporting patients

News editor

Marion County EMS logged 1,172 calls in 2015, the most of any year dating back to 2005, county commissioners learned Friday.

Data reported by EMS interim director Ed Debesis showed 344 calls, an average of about six per week, didn’t involve patient transports. The largest number of those, 259, were calls in which an ambulance arrived on scene but did not take a patient anywhere. There were 46 calls terminated before an ambulance arrived, and 39 instances of stand-by calls.

Debesis said non-transports are an issue everywhere, and that reasons for the calls vary, including responses to car accidents in which no one is injured. People who live alone will sometimes call EMS when routine health issues arise instead of going to a doctor, he said.

“Sometimes the family’s not around and they do have concerns,” Debesis said. “I’ve gone to doctors and said, ‘We’ve run this patient 20 times this week, is there anything we can do, can we get something set up to help them?’ Maybe it’s sending home health in, or maybe it’s time for them to not be living alone.”

The number of transfer calls caught commissioner Dan Holub’s eye. EMS had 267 calls in which a patient was transferred, all but a few from one hospital to another.

“Look at all the transfers we have,” he said. “It’s not only the time and money, but you have an ambulance going on a call where they’re not going to transport anyway, and someone may need it somewhere else.”

Commissioners agreed to have Debesis continue as interim director while they conduct a search for a permanent director.

“I would like to have this settled by March 15,” Holub said.

Debesis expressed interest in the position.

“Let me know when you open it up so I can get my application in,” he said.

Commission chairman Randy Dallke said he had received criticism from smaller towns that they were not included in an economic development meeting Jan. 21 held by Marion in conjunction with Hillsboro and the county.

“We’re not leaving them out,” he said. “Right now it’s the people who spend money who had a meeting. We’re looking at supporting everybody. We’re going to have to expand to get everybody included.”

Economic development director Teresa Huffman reported that a problem with a link to the county’s economic development website in which browsers were redirected to a site in China appeared to have been isolated to the city of Marion’s computers.

Marion city administrator Roger Holter had demonstrated the errant link at the Jan. 21 meeting.

“I went home and typed it in on my laptop at home, and I didn’t have that on my website,” she said.

Huffman traced the problem to an earlier version of the website that used a different name. When the site was changed and the name registration expired, someone else bought the rights to the name, likely with the intent to try to sell it back to the county at a higher price, she said.

“No one was going to that website,” she said. “The state fixed it. We were not sending people to bogus places.”

Huffman also corrected an error published in the Marion County Record regarding county tourism booklets that feature a Chase County bridge on the cover instead of a Marion County attraction.

“I don’t publish it, I just buy an ad in it,” she said. “This is a publication that is from the (Hillsboro) Free Press.”

Huffman said she was working with Mid-Kansas Community Action Program to re-establish an office in Marion County. Commissioners agreed to consider a proposal to lease available space in the Bowron building, and asked Huffman to develop one.

Representatives of Treanor Architects presented results of lead and asbestos testing conducted on courthouse windows, which commissioners have proposed to repair, along with installing storm windows.

Lead was found in exterior paint samples, and asbestos was found in glazing putty and caulk of about half of the windows tested. Abatement costs will add about $65,000 to the project, now projected to cost between $855,000 and $1.16 million.

Clerk Tina Spencer noted that $400,000 had been budgeted across two years for the project, and that commissioners could choose to take additional money from a multipurpose capital improvement fund.

Commissioners voted to proceed with soliciting bids for the project asking contractors to provide costs for doing the project in stages as well as all at once.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2016

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