Ambulance service, community paramedicine under consideration by Crestwood

City has multiple options for ambulance services

Crestwood+firetrucks+and+emergency+vehicles+led+the+three-block+parade+route.+

Crestwood firetrucks and emergency vehicles led the three-block parade route.

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen began discussions Sept. 28 to address the city’s ambulance services.

Currently, the city is home to a rescue truck and contracts Abbott EMS to provide ambulance services. The rescue truck is capable of on-site first aid and rescue, but relies on an ambulance for transportation to a hospital. 

City Administrator Kris Simpson gave the board a few different options to consider moving forward with, including the addition of a community paramedicine program. 

“The community paramedicine program is an on-demand non-emergency care provider. You call the fire department and the community paramedic would come to your home to administer non-emergency care,” Simpson said. “Think of it like … a house visit type doctor.”

Simpson said around half of EMS calls are non-transports in the city and in many cases they “are not true emergencies.” The paramedic would make follow up calls to prevent future avoidable accidents like removing loose carpets in an elderly person’s home. Currently Mehlville has a pilot program for the service.

The board has the option to not change anything, add a community paramedic only, add an ambulance and crew (five new employees) or to add the paramedic and ambulance services (six new employees).

Simpson estimated the addition of any of those employees would be about $100,000 each added to the operating budget. He said over the course of emergency calls the ambulance car would pay for itself. To fund the addition of so many employees would require the city to double its fire protection sales tax  – from a quarter-cent to a half center – to bring in the extra $500,000 to $600,000.

The board was split on which plan was best for the city, with Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau saying he would vote for no changes at all at the time of the discussion.

“I probably would maintain the status quo, I would be open, with a huge asterisk, to switching to an ambulance service and discontinuing the rescue truck. I do not like the idea of the community paramedic,” Charboneau said. “I think the thought of it is good, but the issue I see would be … individuals don’t utilize it.”

Fire Chief Lou Hecht said community paramedicine is where fire departments are headed, providing the example of the homebound vaccine program, where the fire department would go and vaccinate people in their homes. Hecht said he would also like to see the board keep the rescue truck because of the large storage transportation it provides. 

The board will continue to weigh the pros and cons of each possible plan at future meetings.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct tax revenue source that would be used if the city had to hire additional employees for ambulance services.