Indiana Community Debates EMS Service

Merrillville (IN) turned its emergency medical services over to a private ambulance company in 2008 as a way to cut costs, reports nwitimes.com.

Now, nearly five years later and with the addition last year of 14 full-time firefighters, Merrillville Fire Chief Ed Yerga is considering moving to a cross-trained ambulance crew staffed by firefighters.

“I’m still in the research stage but, personally, I think public service belongs with the community. That’s what people pay their taxes for and I believe they are entitled to receive those services,” Yerga said.

A year ago, East Chicago turned its emergency medical services over to Prompt, a private ambulance company, East Chicago Fire Chief Emiliano Perez said.

The move has been a deemed a success by officials despite bitterness at the time by some emergency medical services positions lost.

“Every community has to judge for itself…It was a good move. It was certainly cost-effective,” Perez said.

The question of whether to go with fire-based emergency medical services, retain a private ambulance company or use hospital–based services is an issue area communities have wrestled with in recent years.

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