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Vernon County Ambulance District's resources stretched thin - KOAM TV 7

Vernon County Ambulance District's resources stretched thin

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NEVADA, MISSOURI -

The Vernon County Ambulance District is facing a tight budget. This as calls increase and stretch resources thin.

EMS workers in Vernon County have been putting in plenty of extra hours.

“Calls have definitely increased so there's a lot of times we're averaging 7 or 8 calls a shift, so in a 24 hour period,” says Dustin Miller, a part time EMS with VCAD.

Most of the calls are cardiac or drug related. Vernon County Ambulance District Director James McKenzie says some of them aren't true emergencies, tying up resources. They have 9 full time workers and operate 5 ambulances that have to be ready to go at any second.

“If you have 5 maybe 6 transfers come in, you have no option, you may have just worked 40 hours for the week or 60 hours. There's no option, you have to take that transfer. You need somebody in the back of the truck and you need somebody to drive it so you just do your job,” says McKenzie.

For the patients, what's on the inside of the truck matters most. With advances in medicine the Vernon County Ambulance District has to replace their equipment about every 5 years and with the newest technology comes a higher price tag.

“One monitor for example will cost us $28,000 to $32,000, you got 5 trucks, it’s not to the point where you can just take well we'll just buy 2 monitors and forget the rest," says McKenzie.

It’s tough to keep up with the costs, but upgrading is necessary.

“We have to maintain the highest standard of the equipment so we can properly treat and help everybody,” says Miller.

“Hands down the technology there has saved lives,” adds McKenzie.

Maintenance for the trucks costs about $25,000 a year. The Ambulance District operates off of a 15% property tax and other small incomes like Medicaid or Medicare. So when the budget is tight, McKenzie says all they can do is juggle what they have.

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