With an uptick in calls for medical emergencies in the past six years, several local fire departments are considering adding more ambulances and medical personnel.
The number of emergency calls for fire departments — including fires, car crashes and medical emergencies — has increased across Johnson County as the population has continued to grow since 2010. For many departments, the numbers of fires they have responded to has remained fairly steady, with the biggest increases coming in medical calls.
Fire chiefs cite a growing county population, economic development and a widening variety of situations firefighters are asked to respond to as some of the reasons behind the increases.
To meet that need, Bargersville, White River Township and Franklin fire departments all could have an additional ambulance in the next several years. The Greenwood Fire Department has plans for additional stations.
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Since 2010, the number of calls the Bargersville Fire Department has responded to has increased by 58 percent. The department, which added its first ambulance in 2012, is looking to add another station, along with six employees to run it, in the next several years, Chief Jason Ramey said.
While the number of fires the Bargersville Fire Department has responded to has remained fairly steady, the main increase has been in medical emergency calls. The department began its own ambulance service in 2012, and plans to expand to a second vehicle as soon as 2018. Emergency medical calls rose from 671 in 2010 to 1,100 in 2016, which is a 64 percent increase, Ramey said.
Extra property taxes won’t be needed to fund the ambulance, as the service has been self-sustaining with the insurance payments the department collects from sick or injured people, he said.
The department also is looking to add three more firefighters — one for each eight-hour shift — with the help of a federal grant that would assist in paying for each of the firefighters’ salaries during their first three years with the department, Ramey said.
That increase in necessary to make sure the department has enough people available on each of its three shifts, he said.
Bargersville is a growing area, and with more housing developments planned, the need for fire and emergency services is going to continue to expand, and the fire department will have to expand with it, he said.
“We need additional staff,” Ramey said. “That is the cost that keeps on coming. It’s a delicate situation where we want to keep up with growth and not go overboard.”
White River Township is also considering a third ambulance as well, but will need to figure out how to pay for staffing it, Chief Jeremy Pell said.
The major concern for his department is the impact of the future Interstate 69 development, and the extra growth that will bring to the Center Grove Area.
Recent construction of apartments and and an assisted living center, as well as more housing subdivisions, has played a role in the population growth, Pell said.
About 75 percent of the calls his department gets are for emergency medical services, he said.
“If the department stays the same and the community grows more quickly than the department, it will put a strain on emergency services,” he said.
If the number of calls that the Seals Ambulance Service responds to continue to trends upward, its likely that the business could be asked to provide another ambulance in the city.
While the number of emergency calls has risen steadily, McElyea said that the Interstate 65 construction likely played a role with the number of accidents in recent years. He’d like to see if the numbers continue to remain high before asking Seals for another ambulance.
The question for the Franklin Fire Department is where the extra ambulance and staff would be placed. The city is looking into the renovation or reconstruction of Station 21 on North Main Street.
“It’s no secret that we are getting busier, each year we keep asking the mayor for additional manpower, and I will ask again,” he said.
For Greenwood, the numbers of calls the department has received has steadily risen. The department already has plans to eventually add two more stations as development on the east side of the city near Interstate 65 continues.
Area fire departments are getting more calls for help, such as medical emergencies or vehicle accidents, each year. Here’s a look at which departments are seeing the greatest increases in calls.
;2010;2015;2016;Increase from 2010-16
White River Township;2,275 ;2,826;3,012;32%