Springdale Worries EMS Resources Will Run Out

SPRINGDALE, AR-- A new twist in the battle over ambulance service in Northwest Arkansas. Springdale will provide emergency services to rural areas of Benton County for the rest of 2014. But some worry resources will run out.

Springdale fire chief, Mike Irwin, said the city has been providing EMS service to rural areas of Benton County since 1968.

Irwin said, "There was no one else available that could run those calls."

However, the city has been trying to cut back on rural ambulance runs.

Springdale paramedic, Dustin McDonald said, "I'm on one of the outlying units and we go out a whole lot."

With a more than $68,000 contract signed by the city council on Tuesday, Irwin is worried about resources. "We're right on the cusp of needing that fifth ambulance to be staffed."

McDonald said response times to rural areas of Benton County can be up to 30 minutes, and that means more pressure on paramedics and patient care. "It takes a long time to get out there and it is frustrating."

McDonald said he heads out to the rural areas quite often and it can be intimidating.

"Time is of the essence and we are doing everything we can to shave those minutes and seconds off," McDonald said.

He said it can also be dangerous. "You are thirty minutes from a hospital and you have to do major treatments for thirty minutes."

Beyond the 2014 contract, Chief Irwin hopes the city can come up with a different plan.

Irwin said, "I think that cutting back into those rural areas and not providing service out there is eventually where we are going to have to go."

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