Some S. Indiana residents facing 30 minute wait times after dialing 911

How long is too long to wait for an ambulance?

CLARK CO., Ind. (WHAS11) -- How long is too long to wait for an ambulance?

That's the question the Monroe Township Fire Department is wrestling with. The department depends on Clark County in Southern Indiana for its service and a recent wait of 36-minutes is leading questions and possibly changes.

When you dial 911, you need help fast.  But when you dial 911 from certain spots in Clark County, the wait for an ambulance is practically guaranteed.

"On the majority of our runs, the loved ones that are there are like where's the ambulance at? Where's it coming from? And were like sir, ma'am we're sorry, when we were dispatched we were told that they're 20 minutes away,” Monroe Township Fire Chief Mark Furnish said.

Furnish leads fire department out of Henryville, Indiana.

It’s a volunteer department that has no EMS services and relies on a company contracted by Clark County for medical calls.

"Our run times have dramatically changed. They went from 15, 16, 18, 20 minutes which was never great, to 25 minutes, 30 minutes and I think there was one run last week that was 36 minutes,” Furnish said.

Furnish took his concerns to Clark County Commissioner Jack Coffman last week.

After hearing of the 36-minutes wait time, Coffman said, "That’s too long, we really need to look at having response times less than that."

Coffman said he's working on a solution, but the issue is complicated.

To station an EMS crew in Henryville would cost taxpayers about $600,000 annually.

Furnish says the department averages about two runs a day. The question now—how much is too much?

"I can't say that there’s been a life lost because of this yet but if we don't address it, it is something that is quite real on every run,” Furnish said.

Coffman said he plans to meet with the ambulance providers soon, but couldn't provide a timeline for when community members may see a change in wait times.

"The safety and wellbeing of the citizens here in the county are the main concern of the commissioners,” Coffman said.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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