EMS services for Grant County on the line

Changes are coming to Grant County's ambulance services, and some officials believe the direction they take could mean the difference between life and death.

DRY RIDGE, KY (FOX19) - Leaders in Dry Ridge are working with Grant County and all of the communities within it to figure out how to pay for EMS services moving forward, but time is running out.

The way the system is set up currently, when an ambulance is sent out in Grant County, officials said it will either be from AMR, a private, for profit company, or from the city of Dry Ridge.

That has been the case for 17 years.

"They're busy. They stay busy," Jim Wells, the Mayor of Dry Ridge, said. "We know they're busy."

When AMR's vehicles are already tied up in the county, Dry Ridge crews head out.

However, that will now change. Mayor Wells said at a town hall meeting Thursday that Dry Ridge taxpayers are footing the bill for all of the city's runs into the county, and that can't continue.

"Five percent of the county can't pay for 100 percent of the costs," Wells said. "It costs more to run it than we generate in revenue."

With expenses piling up, Wells is suggesting something new. His proposal is an "EMS Cost Share Plan" that would share the cost of EMS services between the county and all of the communities within it.

Several payment plans are on the table, including one that divides the cost based on the percentage of runs for each city.

Wells is asking county officials and officials in each community to commit to negotiating out a plan by December 7.

If that does not happen, Wells said that Dry Ridge will be forced to stop sending ambulances to any address outside of Dry Ridge starting January 1, 2018.

'"We don't want to stop providing EMS service, but it's not about the right thing, it's about dollars and cents at this point," Wells said.

Even with the deadline around the corner, not everyone is 100 percent sure about the idea.

Some are wondering if there are better options, such as Dry Ridge charging people who use ambulances more money, or sticking with a private company entirely.

The mayor believes splitting the sum is the best way and the fair way.

"We don't want to pull the plug," Wells said. "That's the last thing we want to do because we know it is literally going to make the difference between life and death."

No one spoke out in direct opposition of the idea at Thursday's meeting, but some people did ask 'why now?' Wells' response is that if Dry Ridge continues to cover all of the costs, the city will be in a sticky financial situation down the line, and they want to avoid that.

The mayor said that if even one community does not commit by December 7, then Dry Ridge will have to stop EMS services outside of the city, which would leave all of runs in the county solely up to AMR.

Specific details regarding the proposed EMS Cost Share Plan are on the city of Dry Ridge's website.

Copyright 2017 WXIX. All rights reserved.