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By Carmen Ensinger
A request to purchase a 1999 ambulance to use as a backup until a new ambulance can be built led to an interesting discovery by members of the Greene County Judiciary Committee at their monthly meeting Thursday afternoon.
Greene County Ambulance Coordinator Marc Clark addressed the Committee about purchasing a 1999 ambulance from Shipman, which has only 76,000 miles on it, to use as a substitute for the 2013 ambulance, which has been out of commission for the past several months.
The 2013 ambulance has nearly 270,000 miles on it, has had the transmission replaced once and is in need of having it replaced again, plus needs other repairs that will cost more than $6,000. The County has been looking into ordering a new ambulance and Clark had two bids for the board. The County has been purchasing a new ambulance on average every two years.
Board member Chris Elliott asked why the County had to buy ambulances so often.
“Basically, it is because of the mileage,” Clark said. “We wear them out.”
Elliott asked how many miles they put on an ambulance in a year. “Well, the one we purchased two years ago has 43,000 miles on it now,” Clark said. “The one we are going to replace has 269,000 on it.”
Board member Joyce Clark asked if they would have less miles if the EMT’s would quit using them to ride around town to get lunch and sodas.
Marc Clark said that wasn’t what was putting all of the miles on the ambulances.
“But I can tell you that there is something that is done every day that I don’t agree with and that is the courier runs that are done for the hospital,” he said. “They go from the hospital, to White Hall, to Roodhouse to Greenfield, Monday through Friday to take office mail and sometimes to pick up specimens. They call them ‘blood runs.’”
Joyce Clark asked how long this has been going on.
“I have been here 15 years and they have done it since the first day I have been here,” he said.
Joyce Clark said that doesn’t make sense.
“I think we could save a lot of mileage on these ambulances and have a lot more years of services on them if we didn’t have them making all these runs every day,” she said.
Elliott asked why it was even the county’s responsibility to make the runs.
“That is the hospital’s responsibility – not ours,” he said. “Whatever is going back and forth between the hospital and the doctor’s offices, I’m sure the hospital is billing someone for it. So why is that the county’s responsibility to provide this free service that they are billing someone else for.”
Marc Clark said he didn’t have an answer for that.
“Like I said, they have been doing it ever since I started working there and I never understood it,” he said. “I don’t know how many miles it is to go from Carrollton to White Hall to Roodhouse to Greenfield and back to Carrollton, but you do that five times a week and it adds up.”
It is roughly a 60-mile roundtrip to all three locations each day. This adds up 1,200 additional miles per month on the ambulance or 15,600 per year.
Using these calculations, the ambulance the county purchased two years ago that currently has 43,000 on it, if it were used every day to make these courier runs, would have only 11,800 miles on it rather than the 43,000 on it.
“It is obvious that we would have a lot less miles on our ambulances and therefore prolong the life of our ambulances if we were able to limit them to true ambulance runs,” Joyce Clark said. “With tax revenues going down and stores closing, we have to look at ways to save money and one of the ways, in my opinion, is to not have the ambulance do all this extra running around to save mileage and extend the life of the ambulance so it will last longer. Plus, doesn’t it take away from when the ambulance is needed?”
Marc Clark said it did.
“There have been multiple times where that ambulance has gone out on a courier run and gets called out an on emergency run and another ambulance has to go out and finish the courier run,” he said.
Board member Earlene Castleberry asked if the hospital had another vehicle they could possibly use to make these runs and Clark said they didn’t own a vehicle.
“Regardless, it is not the county’s responsibility, nor the taxpayers responsibility to fund these courier runs that are being made daily,” Joyce Clark said.
Castleberry said she would ask Hospital Administrator Debbie Campbell to attend the Wednesday, Sept. 8 board meeting to further explain the issue to the full board.