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EMS operation off to good start

A new era in emergency medical services for the city began Sunday.

That’s when Steubenville’s ambulance operation officially opened for business.

It’s a positive move, not only for city residents, but for EMS operations in neighboring communities.

The city’s decision to offer its own emergency medical services became necessary earlier this year, when it became apparent that its longtime emergency services provider, Ambulance Service Inc., was not able to handle the volume of calls that were coming from city residents.

That forced Steubenville to become more reliant on services offered by neighboring communities, including Wintersville Fire and Rescue, Mingo Junction and Toronto-based TEMS. While those agencies were able to respond, the extra calls put a strain on them and created concerns that residents in their coverage areas might not have timely access to services when they were needed because the units would be working on a mutual-aid call.

In response to those issues, Steubenville contracted with Wintersville to provide overnight coverage at a cost of $800 a shift.

Members of City Council and city management worked with Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi to quickly put the service together, using, in large part, money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Because of that, Capaldi explained, it only took six months for the city to go from having no EMS equipment or transportation capabilities to having its service up and running.

An added bonus is that the equipment has been paid for, and is not leased, which leaves the city with no long-term obligations and two fully-stocked ambulances with a third in reserve.

Staffing remains an issue. The city’s failure to obtain a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant means only one ambulance can be in operation, Capaldi is confident that extra revenue generated by the service will allow the city to hire the six additional people needed to start the second ambulance.

The need for the service already has been highlighted — city crews responded to 10 calls Sunday, 11 calls Monday and at least six on Tuesday, Capaldi said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

In the end, the service is a win-win for city residents, who will now have easier access to emergency services, and EMS agencies and residents in surrounding communities, who should feel less pressure about providing mutual aid. There’s every reason to believe it will continue to be a plus for all involved.

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