Chesterton Tribune



Town Council: Any ALS ambulance service must be self-supporting

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The Chesterton Town Council is currently reviewing Fire Chief John Jarka’s proposal for the establishment of an advanced life support (ALS) ambulance service, but made one thing crystal clear at its meeting Monday night.

Namely, that an ALS service would have to be self-supporting, as the town simply can’t afford to subsidize it.

Jarka submitted the proposal at the council’s last meeting, two weeks after he reported that Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service had demanded an immediate subsidy of $150,000 to continue providing ALS to Chesterton residents. Members said Nuts to that. Barring an unforeseen development, Porter Regional Hospital EMS will begin running ambulances again in Chesterton on Dec. 30 or Dec. 31.

“I am working with 911 to transition seamlessly,” Jarka told the council on Monday. “I am working with them to get the right hour and date.”

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to approve a punch-list of items for legal to review, as part of a due-diligence consideration of Jarka’s proposal:

--Research billing services based in Indiana.

--Retain the services of the town’s contracted financial consultant, London Witte Group, or else some other third party, to crunch the revenue projections prepared by Jarka and his predecessor as chief, Mike Orlich. “The proof is in the pudding,” as Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, put it.

--Obtain accurate prices for the equipment which the CFD would need to acquire for ALS service: a Lifepak monitor and chest compression device.

--Have the state certify the CFD’s ambulance as an ALS rig.

--Prepare a job description for the part-time paramedics who would staff the ambulance.

--Authorize Jarka to compile a hiring list of part-time paramedics.

--Amend the town’s Personnel Policy as appropriate.

--And consult with the Redevelopment Commission on the feasibility of using tax increment financing to purchase a second ambulance rig. “That is long term,” observed Member Jim Ton, R-1st. “Long term.”

The linchpin of a viable ALS service, however, is billing, Ton emphasized. “We have to recoup the cost of running the rig,” he said. “If we can’t recoup the cost, or at least 75 percent of it, we can’t afford this service. That’s where we need to start: can we collect the money for this? It should be self-funded through the billing process.”

DeLaney agreed. “This has to be done so this council or the next one can make a due-diligence decision,” he said.


In other business, members unanimously voted to approve an ordinance which codifies and clarifies--as Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson explained--a number of customary practices and procedures which the Town Council has actually followed for years in the absence of any comprehensive ordinance stipulating them.

--That the council shall meet at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of the month.

--That the council may hold executive sessions so long as proper notification has been given in accordance with the Open Door Law.

--That any council member may submit an item for business on a meeting agenda, but no later than five business days prior to the meeting. The Clerk-Treasurer may distribute the agenda to members no later than two business days prior to the meeting.

--That all matters relating to municipal employment, including the settlement of claims and litigation relating to employment, must be enacted by ordinance of the Town of Chesterton.

--That no ordinance may be adopted unless the ordinance has appeared on the council’s agenda for the meeting at which it is to be considered. A two-thirds vote is required for the council to suspend the rules and pass the ordinance on second reading at the same meeting at which the ordinance is introduced.

--That no ordinance which has failed to obtain a majority of votes on first reading may be placed on the agenda for a period of 60 days following the date of first reading, unless a majority of members agrees to consider that ordinance at their next meeting.

--That “first reading” of an ordinance constitutes its introduction.


Posted 12/11/2019





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