Editorial: Charleston’s affordable asset

Charleston’s ambulances provide an excellent service to the area while keeping the cost for taxpayers low, and that should be commended.

At the Charleston City Council’s Fall Retreat, Fire Chief Kris Phipps announced the city receives a projected $2 million in revenue from the ambulance service and, since the department is budgeted at $2.7 million for a year, the amount paid by taxpayers comes out to be about $28.30 per person.

This is significantly lower than that of other areas.

Assistant Fire Chief Pat Goodwin said in Carbondale, residents pay about $125 per person because they do not have an ambulance service.

It has taken more than 20 years to incorporate the program into the fire department, but the wait has been worth it – the ambulance service in Charleston seems top notch with four vehicles and high-level training.

Two vehicles are regularly staffed and used throughout the day while the others remain on standby. One of the ambulances was recently replaced and the city will focus on repairs on the rest.

The four vehicles are equipped with advanced life support, which is the highest level of aid in ambulance service. Each one can sustain high trauma victims until hospital arrival.

Charleston is also ahead in paramedic training. Paramedic training takes about 18 months of schooling, which not all volunteer EMTs can afford.

Goodwin said this puts CFD ahead of many of the state’s facilities.

Since ambulances have been incorporated into the fire department, the entire staff has become EMS-certified with advance life support services and coverage has grown to include about 200 square mile area in Charleston.

“The ambulances make a very positive impression,” Inyart said. “They are a tremendous asset to the city and its response area.”

The ambulances respond to about 3,000 calls annually and transport more than 2,000 patients – mainly to the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.

About 87 percent of those calls are EMS calls, leaving less than one in five calls to fire related emergencies.

With the low cost and high quality of emergency service, taxpayers of Charleston should be grateful for what this town is doing for them. Normally, a low cost means not as great of quality, but the ambulance service in Charleston has proved that to be a fallacy.