Sedgwick County EMS wants to add two 12-hour shifts to help keep up with increased call demand.
Public safety director Marv Duncan told county commissioners during a departmental budget hearing Thursday that call volume has been increasing 3 percent a year.
Duncan is requesting about $868,500 to add EMS staff.
EMS responded to more than 58,000 calls last year. Duncan predicts calls will reach about 60,000 this year. In 2004, EMS responded to 41,821 calls.
“Right now we have an immediate need, and we need to even out the curve,” Duncan told commissioners.
He said EMS is meeting with various groups, including those for senior citizens, to try to educate people about when to use an ambulance to help decrease the number of calls. Commissioner Richard Ranzau, a former medic in the military, told Duncan that was a good idea. Ranzau also said he’d like to see paramedics spend less time handling administrative duties.
EMS plans to raise ambulance rates to generate about $388,400 in additional revenue next year. The county’s rates are lower than the average charge among the country’s 200 largest cities, according to a chart Duncan provided.
The county’s cost for drugs to treat patients also is on the rise. EMS has requested about $49,000 more next year for commodities including drugs.
Duncan also is asking for another toxicologist for the Regional Forensic Science Center, which provides testing for law enforcement and handles autopsies. He estimated that would cost the county an additional $66,500.
The center’s forensic laboratory is handling more drug testing in criminal cases, including for new synthetic drugs.
Departmental budget hearings continue through May 23. A complete schedule can be found at www.sedgwickcounty.org/finance/budget.asp.
Buchanan will present his recommended budget to commissioners at their weekly meeting July 16. Public hearings are scheduled for July 30 and August 7. Residents also will be able to comment online at www.sedgwickcounty.org after July 16. Commissioners will vote on a budget for next year Aug. 13.