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Published: Wednesday, 2/20/2013

Seneca County mulls EMS funding

BY LISA SWICKARD
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

TIFFIN — Concern about expenses and recruiting and retaining emergency medical technicians has prompted the Seneca County commissioners to investigate alternative ways of financing its Emergency Medical Services department.

Seneca County has seven EMS squads that together make an average of 1,000 runs annually. Assistant County Administrator Tanya Hemmer said the EMS department receives about $461,000 a year — $300,000 from billing, $6,000 in grants, and $155,000 from the county's Local Government Fund. Of that revenue, $65,000 is put aside annually toward buying an ambulance. The county buys a new ambulance every three years.

The EMS budget for 2012 was $450,000; the 2013 budget is $456,000.

Commissioner Fred Zoeller said he asked the county auditor for a five-year breakdown of the department’s revenues and expenses.

“We need to know if we have to look at an alternative way of funding, or do they have to find ways to control their expenses,” Mr. Zoeller told county commissioners during a Tuesday work session. “Right now, their biggest, single concern is recruitment and retention — how to get volunteers to run it.”

Commissioner Holly Stacy said an increase in local economic development undoubtedly would boost those numbers, as the surge of people working outside the county has diminished the pool of available EMS volunteers.

County EMS coordinators are to discuss the issue March 19.



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