Councilman wants additional ambulance, others disagree

WHITLEY COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – South Whitley Town Council President Randall Cokl has been trying for months to add an ambulance but is having a tough time convincing the county commissioners. Right now there are three ambulances spread throughout Whitely County. Some think that’s enough and that the system is efficient. Others disagree.

The standard goal for ambulance response time is 13 minutes or less. Parkview claims to meet that 85% of the time.“I find that hard to believe. I work in the communications center so I hear quite a bit of traffic that goes on,” Cokl said.

Eric Clabaugh, Parkview’s director of communications, is confident in the numbers. “This is something that’s very important to the health system but also there is strategy involved and having everything in one location and one team working on this really is of value to the community.”

Under the current contract, the county dispatches from Parkview. Cokl wants to add one more through Lutheran. He said he was making moves but is now at a standstill. “Lutheran has the staff hired, they have the trucks branded. They have the facilities leased but we’re waiting on the dispatch.”

Cokl wants to dispatch through Whitley County Sheriff’s Department. He said this discussion came up last year when people said they were concerned about long response times. NewsChannel 15 talked with Commissioner Don Amber who wouldn’t say much but did dispute that. “I’ve had no complaints from the citizens,” he said.

Cokl said although the servicing isn’t free, tax payers don’t have to subsidize the cost of the ambulance. He doesn’t want to replace the current deal but add to it. What seemed like a good idea to him isn’t moving along easily. “The county attorney said that the entire county is under contract with Parkview and our town attorney and I disagree with that.”

Clabaugh mentioned the success of the EMS service at Parkview in a shared space and the experience and knowledge inside the dispatch center. He’s confident in the cohesive effort. “I can’t speak on behalf of the commissioners but I think part of their concern is if they start letting different groups handle their dispatch differently that could create some efficiency and liability issues.”

It doesn’t appear that this discussion will go away anytime soon. Councilman Cokl said he has talked with the commissioners about meeting again to discuss what else can be done.