Deceased driver had been in recent chase
April 05, 2013 · Meghan Hunter
Public safety matters were addressed by the Lisbon City Council last week. The city plans to hire another police officer, and is holding off on making a missed payment to the ambulance service.
Hiring a third police officer is now on the horizon. The council included a third full-time officer in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The other two officers are chief Rick Scott and officer Vern Vacek.
"I think we do need to get (the application process) started (because) it's going to take more time than we think and you want to get things lined up ahead," said council member John Bardsley said.
The council, minus an absent council member Travis Jubeck, unanimously approved the measure.
During an audit of fiscal year 2012 payments to the Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance service, it was discovered there was a missed payment of $1,750 from the City of Lisbon. Total payments to the service from Lisbon are $3,500, paid twice a year.
As the city council at its March 25 meeting considered approving the missed payment, police chief Rick Scott, speaking as a citizen, addressed them about his recent experience with the service.
"When you guys pay this payment, I just want you to take one thing: I called the ambulance Saturday for my wife and they didn't even have a crew to show up," Scott told the council. "It's been an ongoing thing and I would respectfully request that the safety committee meet with your three (ambulance service) liaisons and address this issue."
He said it's his opinion that the service should hire someone to ensure coverage.
His comments came after council member Doug O'Connor had made a motion to approve the payment. After Scott's address, no council member seconded the motion.
Bardsley suggested the council hold the payment until council members O'Connor and Larry McAtee, who are on the safety committee, meet with Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service board members.
The rest of the council agreed.
O'Connor said he'll request a list of calls to Lisbon with response times.
Council member Lance Zerbe asked what happens when the service doesn't have a crew.
Fire chief Joe Long said if it can't respond, the dispatcher is supposed to find another service, such as Area Ambulance or Mechanicsville, that is available.
He said that there were three calls in the last two weeks in which "we had to wait for a rig out of Marion."
Long also noted that he recently received notice that Linn County Sheriff's Rescue, which has paramedics, will no longer be running between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Craig Allin, of the Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service, noted to the Sun that "none of the local emergency services get along without occasional outside help. Our local police departments receive assistance from other police departments and from the Linn County Sheriff's office. Our fire departments receive assistance from other fire departments. The Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service has mutual aid agreements with all of the surrounding ambulance services. We come to their assistance, and they come to ours."
He added that the ambulance service's response time is very strong, averaging 12 minutes from being paged to arriving.
Additionally, he said: "The frequency of mutual aid responses by Area Ambulance in the Lisbon-Mount Vernon service area is quite low."
The ambulance service relies completely on volunteers to respond to calls.
"People lead increasingly fragmented lives, and it is increasingly difficult to find individuals who have both the inclination and the time to serve as ambulance volunteers," he said.
Allin said the service has a "critical need for new volunteers," especially those who can respond during the workday. Because of that, he notes, the service has a need for employers in Lisbon and Mount Vernon to be flexible with employees who wish to volunteer.
"The Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service is a community project, and it can only work if it has community support," Allin said.