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Ohio County To Provide Ambulance Services

WHEELING — Ohio County is getting into the ambulance business, hoping to supplement volunteer departments and improve response times.

County commissioners on Tuesday approved a proposal that would establish a paid county EMS service to complement existing ambulance service provided by volunteer fire departments in Ohio County.

The proposal was crafted with the assistance of the chiefs of those fire departments, commissioners said.

There are seven volunteer fire departments in Ohio County, plus Wheeling’s municipal department.

“We’re going to bring in two ambulances of our own,” said Commission President Tim McCormick.

“We’re going to staff them with paramedics. They will stationed somewhere we will decide in the very near future.

“They will be operational from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (seven days a week) because that’s when most of the volunteers are at work, so that makes sense. … This is going to be huge.”

The county EMS response would complement and not replace that of the local volunteer departments, McCormick said.

“If somebody has a heart attack at The Highlands, and Valley Grove can get there, our ambulance will sit still until called to help,” he said.

“If Valley Grove can’t get there, our folks will.”

The result should be faster response times, he said.

Ohio County will not charge patients a fee for providing ambulance service, but will bill insurance providers, according to McCormick.

County administrator Greg Stewart said the annual budget for the county ambulance service would be $392,000, but that some of this cost likely will be offset in the future as insurance companies are billed for the transport of patients.

The Ohio County ambulance service could be up and running in “90 to 100 days” from the time needed equipment is ordered, according to Stewart.

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