Authority would like to extend chase car hours

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
no caption

KEYSER - Over the past three years, Mineral County’s chase car has been on the road from ten hours a day, five days a week.

According to Valley Medical Transport operations director Chris Guynn, the vehicle has been staffed 100% of the time and has enabled Mineral County to respond to medical emergencies in a faster and more effective manner.

“Our standard is to be responding within one minute of an ALS alert,” he told the News Tribune recently. “It is fully Advanced Life Support equipped and it answers between 65-70 calls a month on average.”

Once an ambulance arrives on the scene of the call, the paramedic in the chase car can assist the crew on the scene or make up the squad needed for the ambulance to transport the patient.

“A volunteer squad can respond with an ambulance with a driver, and the paramedic (in the chase car) can make up the crew,” he said.

The calls being answered by the chase car are increasing now, however, as ambulance crews across the county experience difficulties brought about by a lack of volunteers.

Recently, Guynn, Mineral County Ambulance Authority member Steve Rexrode and Firefighter’s Association member Chad Lindsay spoke to the Mineral County Commission about the possibility of expanding the chase car’s hours to help with the situation.

“Our scratch rates are so high in the county … we can’t continue to operate the way we are,” Guynn said of the volunteer ambulance companies.

Of course, the extension of any hours would cost additional money. Lindsay suggested either the county take over the expenses for the chase car, or keep paying for it out of the Ambulance Authority budget but have the county take over the cost of just the extra hours.

“Monday through Friday it could be manned 24 hours,” Lindsay said.

At the commissioners’ request, Guynn will work up an estimation of the cost of the extra hours to present to the county.

The chase car, in its third year in Mineral County, is under a contractual agreement between the Mineral County Ambulance Authority, which is overseen by the county commission, and Valley Medical Transport.

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info