Joint Ambulance District seeks renewal of levy

By Jeremy Keller - Public Information Officer - Macochee Joint Ambulance District

The Macochee Joint Ambulance District is seeking a renewal of its existing 3.5-mil operating levy on the upcoming November 7th ballot. District voters are being asked to make the current levy permanent, allowing the district to move forward with a stable funding base. The current levy, approved by voters in March of 2012, expires in 2018. District leadership would like to clarify to voters that this is not a new tax, but rather a continuation of the existing levy.

Passage of the initial operating levy allowed the district to begin full-time staffing of an ambulance at the squad station in West Liberty in 2013. Formerly a volunteer organization, the former West Liberty EMS had become overwhelmed by a steady increase in emergency responses coupled with a simultaneous decline in volunteer membership. The situation reached a tipping point in 2011, when more than ten percent of the 626 total calls received had to be handled by Bellefontaine Fire and EMS due to a lack of volunteers.

Today, Macochee provides prompt, high-quality emergency medical response to the district’s residents. Thanks to funding from the current levy, Macochee has achieved several milestones since 2013:

-Meeting Demand for Emergency Response: Demand for service has continued to increase, with Macochee crews on track to respond to more than 1,000 emergency calls in 2017. This call volume can only be handled by paid crews on station 24 hours a day, as the demand on volunteers would be unsustainable.

-Reduced Response Times: At least one unit is continuously on station and able to respond within one minute of being dispatched. This means that 99% of the district population can be reached by an ambulance in eight minutes or less, on average. The West Liberty-Salem Local Schools campus can be reached in less than four minutes, allowing quick response to the unfortunate shooting incident last January.

-Increased Quality of Care: A stable workforce of full and part-time paramedics and EMTs has allowed for an increase in quality of care, as longer-term employees have been able to gain increased experience with the community, local medical protocols, and district vehicles and equipment. A prime example of this was the award-winning trauma care provided by Macochee paramedics for a West Liberty resident following a serious bush hog accident in August 2016, a response that would have been nearly impossible for a volunteer squad since it occurred in the middle of a workday.

-Ambulance Modernization: A 22-year-old ambulance was replaced in 2014 thanks to a FEMA grant and a 10-year-old unit was replaced this year thanks to levy funding and community donations. The district now has two modern, mechanically reliable ambulances including one with four-wheel-drive for improved winter response. These major capital investments were made possible by the fiscal stability provided by transitioning to a Joint Ambulance District organizational structure.

-Station Modernization: The nearly 40-year-old station in West Liberty was expanded and modernized using levy funds. The move to full-time staffing required the installation of gender-segregated sleeping rooms, along with related safety enhancements due to full-time occupation of the station. Additional much-needed storage and training space were also added to the old station.

Passage of the levy renewal by District voters will allow the Macochee Joint Ambulance District to continue providing the high quality emergency medical care that our residents have come to expect since 2013. As a renewal, this will result in no additional taxes, but will provide continued fiscal stability for the District into the future.

The Macochee Joint Ambulance District is an independent emergency medical services (EMS) agency in Logan County, comprising the Village of West Liberty, Liberty Township, Monroe Township and the eastern part of Union Township. Macochee provides 9-1-1 response to all EMS calls for our district’s 5,118 residents, and provides EMS standby support to community events including West Liberty-Salem football games and the West Liberty Labor Day Festival. Macochee provides EMS response to parts of Salem and Harrison Townships in Champaign County under a contract arrangement, protecting an additional 1,289 residents and providing first-due response to the West Liberty-Salem Local Schools campus.

By Jeremy Keller

Public Information Officer

Macochee Joint Ambulance District