The Burns Harbor
Town Council heard an update at its meeting last night on a building project
that Fire Chief Bill Arney hopes will entice Porter Regional Hospital to
provide ambulance service to the Town.
At last month’s
Town Council meeting, Arney reported that he and Town Attorney Clay Patton
were going to reach out to Porter Regional to see if they’d be agreeable to
forming an ambulance service contract similar to the one the Town had in the
past with Superior Ambulance Service.
The contract with
Superior became too costly to renew earlier this summer when Superior gave
Arney and the Town short notice to mull a proposed monthly fee of $25,000
along with exclusive rights to the first $150,000 in revenue from calls.
Superior proposed this change in the contract when they were previously
compensated in-kind--Burns Harbor provided the ambulance and fuel and
lodging for workers--and given the right to all call revenue. That contract
ended July 16 when the Town opted not to accept the proposed rate hike.
Residents and Town
officials had qualms about contracting with Porter Regional through the
County due to long response times, but Arney is not looking to join the
County’s contract. Instead, he received approval last month to begin an
addition to the Fire Department for sleeping quarters for EMS personnel. The
project will include needed improvements, but will also add what Porter
Regional deems adequate gender separation in the sleeping quarters. Porter
Regional would require the changes if their workers were going to be based
out of Burns Harbor, according to Arney.
Arney hopes that
Porter EMS personnel will be based in Town and use the ambulance the Town
owns like Superior did to keep response times low. No contract is in place
yet, as Arney said he contacted Porter Regional’s CEO directly to confirm.
“We’re no closer
than we were last month,” Arney said of a contract. He added that some
residents have called him to express their concern about the lack of direct
service. “I explained to them that we’re doing what we can for the time
being.” In the meantime, nearby departments are ready to assist and Porter
Regional is temporarily providing service as part of its contract with the
Commission put a project on hold last month to provide $150,000 to fund the
new sleeping quarters and $50,000 to fix the roof of the existing Fire
Station. Arney said the best bid came from FBi Buildings Inc., out of
Remington, Ind., for $67,000 to do the outer shell and roof of the new
building. One tree will need to be removed and a NIPSCO line relocated in
the course of the work. Arney is working on securing an easement to have the
NIPSCO line moved and plans to hire Justin’s Tree Service for the tree.
In other Fire
Department business, the BHFD responded to 31 calls in July for a total of
20 hours and 45 minutes spent on scene. 45 firefighters completed 76
training hours in three training nights.