Basehor to make push for EMS service improvements
City officials want ambulance housed at Fairmount Township Fire Department
Members of the Basehor City Council plan to increase pressure on the county improve EMS services in 2016.
At its workshop meeting Monday, the council and city staff reviewed Basehor EMS calls and response times from 2014, seeing the data as strong evidence that the city needs a fully staffed ambulance on site. Mayor David Breuer said it was time to formulate a plan and move forward.
“I think if the majority of the citizens saw these numbers they would be shocked; they would be outraged,” said Lloyd Martley, city administrator and police chief.
The city is currently served by ambulances located at the Leavenworth County annex in Tonganoxie or elsewhere in northern Leavenworth County. Last year, Basehor city officials pushed Leavenworth County Commissioners for a new EMS annex in the city, even offering property on the future city campus on 158th Street, but were unsuccessful.
Now the EMS call numbers from 2014 are in, and the City Council agreed they only further support the city’s argument. There were 230 EMS calls, and the response time for 114 of those calls was between 11 and 30 minutes. Only 18 calls had a response time of less than five minutes. Breathing issues, chest pain, fall victims and traffic accidents combined for the majority of the calls.
“I don’t know about you, but 4 minutes is the maximum amount of time you can go without air, and then you’re brain dead,” Martley said.
The county agreed in 2013 to fund a mobile EMS vehicle in Basehor at the cost of $35,000 per year but then canceled that funding last year. Martley said he has talked with EMS officials, most recently at an accident scene at Kansas Highway 7 and Donahoo Road, and they now would support a full ambulance for the city.
Martley said he also has had some preliminary discussions with Chuck Magaha, chief of the Fairmount Township Fire Department, who agreed an ambulance could be housed at the fire department. Martley added that it was his understanding that the fire department was working on a plan to go to a full-time staff.
The cost of a new ambulance could be about $275,000 to $300,000 when at least four full-time EMTs are included.
Martley said because it was the time of year that government organizations begin budgeting for 2016, it was time for Basehor to make its needs known.
“Realistically we need a commitment in the next two months to get it in place next year,” Breuer added.
Breuer said he was “expecting a fight,” but he thought the city had plenty of support from residents.
“If we needed to get it on the county agenda, we could fill the room with citizen support,” he said.
He asked that the city first have representatives meet with the township fire department to firm up an agreement for housing the vehicle. Council members agreed that if an agreement with the fire department couldn’t be reached, the city should still make a request to the county, again with a large amount of residential support.
“If they aren’t going to support it as a community service, then maybe their definition of community service isn’t in line with the community,” Councilman Brian Healy said.
An update on discussions with the fire department was added to the council’s May 18 agenda.
The council also discussed two items related to the future expansion and improvement of the city. The first was the potential of issuing $1.82 million in general obligation bonds for three city projects: $835,000 for sidewalks and $365,000 for sewer rehabilitation on Leavenworth Road, as well as $620,000 for 155th Street engineering.
Martley said the 155th Street engineering project was needed so the city could have a better estimate of improvement costs in order to plan for those improvements. But Healy and Councilman Travis Miles said they were uneasy bonding money for engineering when they weren’t sure exactly when the city would do an improvement project on 155th.
Breuer argued that there would be both an economic and safety impact with 155th Street improvements, so it likely would be a priority sooner than later.
The council requested traffic counts for 155th Street and agreed that it needed to prioritize is capital improvement projects to better plan for the future.
Finally, the council also reviewed the legal processes necessary to annex land into the city. They discussed properties that could help the city square off its borders and likely will revisit a list of potential annexations in the coming months.