SEOEMS is facing own emergency

Published 10:16 am Thursday, August 26, 2010

Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services may be on life support and it is up to county officials to determine if the “do not resuscitate” order should be given.

The ambulance service has been beleaguered in recent months, facing a myriad of financial problems.

Athens County voted this week to drop out of the consortium that also includes Jackson and Lawrence.

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This raises serious questions about the future stability of the ambulance service.

It likely cannot continue to survive in its current incarnation. The Lawrence County Commissioners have said ambulance service remains a priority and they will continue to look at avenues to offer this to taxpayers. Perhaps a more important question is: should they?

It is time to take a long, hard look at county operated ambulance services and see if it makes sense to continue.

Leaders need a clear plan as to what it costs to operate, a conservative estimated amount of revenue it will generate and how much the taxpayers will have to pay, both now and in the future.

Another key question is whether or not Lawrence County would be better off operating it entirely by itself rather than in partnership with Jackson County.

Dealing with only one county would likely make it easier to manage from a administrative standpoint.

It is also time to look at where the dispatching and the headquarters for SEOEMS is located, which is currently in Gallia County.

It makes no sense to have dispatching and headquarters for an ambulance service in a county that it doesn’t even serve.

The commissioners have said they have a plan if Jackson would pull out.

Now is time to share that plan and share other options with the public and the taxpayers who are asked to foot the bill for this.

SEOEMS may be able to be saved, but it is important leaders determine the cost and whether or not the current system should be saved at all.