A call for aid
Voters will decide next month whether to create a Stillwater Ambulance District that would ensure the continuance of Advanced Life Support (ALS) care.
A mail ballot election will take place on May 2, 2017, in which registered voters who live in what is now being called Stillwater Ambulance District No. 1 will decide whether to approve a mill levy that would fund four full-time positions at Columbus Fire Rescue.
The ballot is being mailed out on April 12. The district is defined as the elementary school districts for Columbus, Reed Point and Rapelje.
Those four positions are comprised of two paramedics and two advanced EMTs who provide ALS care. The positions are currently funded through two different grants but fire officials are not willing to risk losing the grants and subsequently the positions, especially considering how widely used ALS is.
The ballot has the backing of Stillwater Billings Clinic healthcare providers, the Columbus Rural Fire Board and local law enforcement.
The mill levy would not exceed 13.3 mills, which means a total of approximately $300,083 assessed on all properties within the boundary of Stillwater Ambulance District 1. For a property owner with an assessed market value of $100,000 would pay approximately $17.96 per year.
A property owner with an assessed market value of $200,000 would pay approximately $35.92 per year, according to the resolution drafted by CFR Chief Rich Cowger and adopted by the Stillwater County Commissioners.
According to the resolution, a 5-member citizen board would be responsible for matters including budgeting, hiring, wages, setting fees and more. That board would initially be appointed by the commissioners then turn into elected positions.
The Columbus Rural Fire Board is paying for the election.
BY THE NUMBERS
Last year, Columbus Fire Rescue responded to a total of 522 EMS calls.
Of those, 282 were ALS calls (Advanced Life Support). This means that the two paramedics and three EMTs with ALS training handled those calls.
An additional 115 ALS transports to Billings hospitals were also provided in 2016.
So far in 2017, of the 155 EMS calls handled, 61 were ALS and 29 ALS transfers had been provided as of Tuesday, March 28, 2017.
According to the National Fire Reporting System, those numbers compare to the previous years as follows:
2010: 199 EMS calls, 22 ALS calls, 15 ALS transfers
2011: 210 EMS calls, 56 ALS calls, 17 ALS transfers
2012: 328 EMS calls, 120 ALS calls, 84 ALS transfers
2013: 267 EMS calls, 167 ALS calls, 80 ALS transfers
2014: 409 EMS calls, 163 ALS calls, 99 ALS transfers
2015: 558 EMS calls, 198 ALS calls, 72 ALS transfers
2016: 522 EMS calls, 282 ALS calls, 115 ALS transfers