Starke County EMS Director Paul Matthewson and Council President Dave Pearman hope to have a final recommendation for the county commissioners at their next meeting with regard to expanded paramedic service. They’re still crunching numbers to determine if the county can sustain the additional cost of adding more paramedics and ambulances in order to provide transfers from IU Health Starke Hospital to other facilities. Commissioner Kathy Norem says they need to proceed carefully and make a sound financial decision so as not to incur a huge deficit. She says while offering additional transportation services will increase revenues, overhead costs will go up as well. Money to cover those costs would come from the county’s general fund.
“It’s fine with me if we devote all that to EMS, but then that would mean that we might have to cut other services. I certainly don’t want to see the sheriff’s department cut or the courthouse staff cut. The worst thing that could happen is to start this up and say ‘gosh, we can’t afford this. We have to discontinue the service’,” Norem said.
The commissioners could make a final decision at their Monday, June 16 meeting. It starts at 7 p.m. at the county annex building. Their options include adding a paramedic to the North Judson base and possibly the Grovertown base. Having at least one more paramedic on duty 24 hours would provide county coverage so the paramedics stationed at Knox provide patient transfer services.