In response to increased call volume and more transports to Columbia and Jefferson City, the Callaway County Ambulance District’s Board of Directors voted at their May 16 meeting to add an additional crew each day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
At the April 18 board meeting, the District’s strategic planning committee presented information to the Board of Directors that demonstrates the need for an additional crew. The committee, which is made up of employee representatives, spent several months researching the need for an additional crew and the associated costs.
The committee examined why a fourth ambulance is needed. Increasing call volume is the primary factor. Since 2012, the District has seen its call volume increase by 23% to just over 5,000 calls per year. The increased call volume has led to regularly depleted resources, or, all available ambulances being assigned to calls at the same time, often for two hours or more. Though the District endeavors to cover this shortfall by issuing an “all call”, which is a request for off duty personnel to respond to cover the shortage, the lack of response often leaves no ambulances available to respond. If a call should come in during this time where there is no coverage, patients will have to wait for an ambulance to respond from another jurisdiction, which can take 30 minutes or more. In a true emergency, this could mean the difference between life and death.
Data reviewed from 2012 to present demonstrates the District’s peak call times are from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. This means the likelihood of having all three ambulances on calls at the same time between these hours is high.
Since October 25, 2016, there were 88 times the District was without an ambulance available for an emergency call. On five occasions, it was necessary to have an ambulance respond from another jurisdiction to an emergency call in Callaway County. In each case, it took between 20 to 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the patient.
Of the 88 times the District was without an ambulance due to call volume, off duty personnel responded only 16 times to cover a fourth ambulance, leaving 72 times where there was no ambulance coverage for an extended period.
The total cost to add an additional crew for 12 hours each day will be approximately $185,000 per year, which includes pay and benefits. These costs will be covered by the District’s regular operating budget.
According to Director Charles Anderson, “This extra crew will be a welcome addition. It will enable the District to reduce the number of times we have no ambulances available, so the residents and visitors of Callaway County will be better served. I would like to thank the strategic planning committee for their work on this and the Board of Directors for recognizing the need and making the commitment to improve services.”
The 12-hour ambulance crew will be staffed and operational no later than August 1, allowing time to hire and train the additional staff needed.