Posted: 12:48 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, 2012

Franklin voters to choose type of EMS service


Franklin voters to choose type of EMS service photo
Franklin will be able to staff two ambulances within the city to provide emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week if voters approve a 3.5-mill property tax levy on Tuesday. Staff photo by Nick Graham

By Skip Weaver

Staff writer


Franklin city officials said the creation of an Emergency Medical Services division within its own fire department will provide quicker response times and better service for its residents compared to the Joint EMS organization.

In Tuesday’s special election, city residents will be asked to support a 3.5-mill tax levy that will generate approximately $733,000 a year and cost $127.75 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home. If the levy passes, Franklin plans to withdraw from the JEMS organization it has been part of since 1982 with Carlisle and Franklin Twp.

Franklin Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf said the levy amount includes what residents currently pay for the JEMS service, plus an additional 21 cents a day to staff and equip two ambulances 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The money that currently goes to JEMS will come to the city if this passes,” Westendorf said. “For an additional 21 cents a day this levy will provide the funding to carry us for the next 10 years.”

Westendorf said the funding will provide for up to four part-time paramedic/EMT positions per 12-hour shift, which means it could add eight part-time personnel to fill those spots taking the current staffing level from five to nine people on duty at all times.

Having an in-house EMS division also will mean quicker response times, Westendorf said.

Currently, when people call 911 the call goes to the dispatchers at the Franklin police department, Westendorf said. If it is a medical emergency, the dispatcher has to transfer the call to Warren County which provides dispatch for JEMS.

“There is a delay in that transfer that is nobody’s fault,” Westendorf said. “It is just part of the system. We can eliminate that delay and be able to respond quicker that will save seconds maybe minutes for our residents.”

The levy also will fund a capital improvement program to replace and maintain a fleet of ambulances, and it will provide for the equipment needed to stock those ambulances for emergency care.

“This is not us vs. them,” Westendorf said referring to JEMS. “It never has been. Running these services in a way they are tied in with the city makes a lot of sense and our taxpayers will win from it in the long run.

“We feel confident we can make this work for us for 10 years,” he continued. “Our employees understand it, council is going to demand it and our residents will expect it, so that is what we are going to do.”

One councilman, however, believes the JEMS model is a more cost effective way to provide emergency care.

“I think the best option economically is for all three communities to continue working with JEMS,” said Carl Bray. “I think JEMS provides a good service and I’m afraid that down the road we might fall into a situation like other cities where it becomes a money pit and we have to lay people off and I would hate to see that happen.”

Bray also said his concerns are strictly financial and do not reflect how he views the performance of the fire department.

“I think our fire department would do a great job with EMS,” Bray said. “I have nothing bad to say about them. This is strictly a financial concern I have down the road.

“If our residents say they want to pay for our own EMS service, then I will also make sure to watch the financials so that it is the best service out there,” he continued. “Whatever our voters want, that’s what I am for.”

Another resident said he has changed his view of the levy.

“I have closely examined all the options and have concluded that Issue 1 provides the best value for the money,” said Franklin resident Doug Greathouse, who has twice run unsuccessfully for a seat on city council. “I initially supported staying with JEMS because I was concerned that we didn’t look at all the other models, but now I can’t see how we can go with an option that would cost us more for not as good service when we have a better alternative.”


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