Once again, SEOEMS is critical issue

Published 10:10 am Friday, September 3, 2010

Call it the Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services. Call it the Lawrence County Ambulance Service. Call it Joe’s Body Hauler.

Whatever name you choose, it is time for Lawrence County to determine what to do about ambulance service by creating a clear plan that can sustain the public service or getting out of the business.

Earlier this week Jackson County announced its plans to leave SEOEMS at the end of the year. However, the Jackson commissioners somewhat waffled — as politicians are apt to do — and said that if SEOEMS is able to continue then they would consider remaining a part of it.

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The message this sends is that they want to be part of the system but aren’t willing to help out with the hard work of finding a solution.

To plan for Jackson to potentially be a part of it but then back out at the 11th hour is simply not efficient or conducive to success. We don’t need fair-weather friends. It is time to wish them well and look at implementing a service for Lawrence County.

Lawrence County Commissioners have taken an proactive approach to seek an outside group to conduct a financial analysis.

It is time for Lawrence County to either look at offering the service itself or hand it over to a private provider. County officials know that the ambulance service in Lawrence County has to be subsidized by county taxpayers. The question is: How much of the tab?

Funding is in place for this now through the half-cent sales tax.

It is up to the commissioners to determine exactly how to operate this service. But it has to be done with minimal impact to overburdened taxpayers.

The name really doesn’t matter. What is important is that this service is available to Lawrence County residents at a reasonable expense.