Wayne County EMS levy fails
WAYNE — It appeared a “lack in concrete plans” resulted in the inability of voters to vote “yes” to pass an excess levy that would fund a countywide ambulance service in Wayne County.
Nearly 65 percent of voters were against the $1.6 million excess levy, which would have provided funding to streamline emergency response and care from the northern to southern end of the county. Opposition took a quick lead in early voting numbers and never faltered, with end results being 8,000 against versus 4,314 for the levy.
Wayne County Commission President Bob Pasley said the commission did their job by identifying a problem and gathering solid facts for a solution, while the voters did theirs by voting.
“I am very proud of what the commission put forward,” Pasley said. “It is our job to seek out problems and work to find a solution. We had a factual-based study by Marshall University and we had a roughly inexpensive way to achieve it — and that was our job. The voters did theirs by casting their votes.”
While some departments have their own EMS staff, at times it could take anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour to respond to a call, with the southern end of the county often seeing longer waits.
The statistics backing the proposal by the Wayne County Commission were detailed in a study conducted by Marshall University in collaboration with B.J. Willis of the Wayne County Office of Emergency Services.
The study concluded that EMS in its current form is working, but it’s fragile. It took a look at the existing EMS system and helped to determine whether it is fulfilling the obligation of the commission to provide an emergency ambulance response to everyone in Wayne County. Criteria for determining data such as where stations should be included were call volume, call zones (where the calls occurred), transport times, time of day and response times.
Many volunteer fire department heads spoke out against the levy, citing lack of concrete plans, inability to operate and lack of funds as reasons behind their opposition.
Another reason for opposition was the plan to create a Wayne County Ambulance Authority with employees working for the county through the ambulance authority. Many felt it was a waste of levy funds to hire administrative positions.
Before the levy was placed on the ballot, commissioners were presented with a plan for services to be administered within each department by VFD heads, but commissioners felt the authority would be the best route if the levy had passed.