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March 1, 2013

Clark may end contract with Rural/Metro

Health department claims ambulance service broke rules, underserved county

JEFFERSONVILLE — Disregard for protocols. Ignored dispatch orders. Below-acceptable service levels. 

For those reasons, the Clark County Health Department and Clark County 911 want Rural/Metro Corporation to no longer be the county’s ambulance service provider. 

In a letter presented to the Clark County Commissioners at their meeting Thursday, County Health Officer Dr. Kevin Burke outlined what he called significant violations by Rural/Metro of its contract with the county and the county’s public safety plan. 

Among those violations included the failure of Rural/Metro ambulances at times to stock controlled substances like morphine and Ativan; failure to let Clark County 911 control ambulance dispatch and standby locations at all times; failure to maintain a minimum number of available units within the county; failure to obtain mutual-aid agreements with another county-certified ambulance provider; and failure to file reports on “long response time” runs with Burke. 

Rural/Metro is required to file a report explaining any ambulance run with a response time greater than 12 minutes. There have been hundreds of such runs since Rural/Metro purchased Clark County EMS and took over its contract with Clark County. Burke says that he has not received a single report explaining a long run. 

Burke said representatives of the county health department, county 911 and Rural/Metro met face to face on four separate occasions since the summer, with former Commissioner Les Young in attendance at two of those meetings. 

“In the last year, numerous letters, emails and phone calls have also occurred,” Burke wrote. Burke said that when Rural/Metro would respond to the county’s complaints — which was not always — the ambulance company would promise to attempt to get in compliance with the county’s requirements. It never did. 

Rural/Metro is required to keep a minimum of four ambulances within the county available to respond to emergency calls. At times, despite being instructed not to do so by Clark County 911, Rural/Metro’s Indianapolis-based dispatch would instruct units in Clark County to go on non-emergency transport runs. This would leave the county with below-minimum coverage, Burke explained. 

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