Windsor residents have been without an official ambulance service since June 1, and the new Windsor Ambulance District board, appointed by area county commissioners June 10, is still searching for a solution.
The roughly 2,800 residents of Windsor, which is also home to Royal Oaks Hospital, a behavioral health care facility, and a nursing home, are now served by whichever surrounding entity has an ambulance crew available. Several WAD members met with the Pettis County Ambulance District board during Tuesday’s PCAD meeting in Sedalia. The two entities discussed possible options for Windsor, and PCAD members offered what advice they could.
“We’re looking at options to bring EMS into our community,” WAD board chair Steve Galloway told PCAD. “We’re just desperately searching to bring some type of service to our community.”
The district, which falls in Benton, Henry, Johnson and Pettis counties, has no staff and only one ambulance, which is “not mechanically sound for runs.” The district closed its doors June 1 due to several problems, including lack of board members and financial problems.
Galloway said when the new board first took over they didn’t even know how much money the district owed, or who it was owed to, until they started to receive the next month’s bills. On Tuesday, Galloway said WAD owes $167,000 to the IRS and $35,000 to the State of Missouri.
When asked by PCAD member Dave Clippert if anything is being done to help pay back those debts, Galloway said some of it is “in the works.”
To help ease some of the debt, the new board said its first priority was to bring in revenue. After looking into what few records were left behind, they found 121 runs — that they know of — had not been billed. Those have since been sent to the billing company the district already had a contract with, and they are starting to see some payments come in. However, it most likely won’t be enough to cover their debts.
“We got all those submitted, but once those are paid, that’s it, except the tax revenue,” Galloway said.
That tax revenue — a 28 cent levy — amounts to about $140,000 a year. The WAD members said enacting a sales tax “isn’t much of an option,” since Windsor doesn’t have any major retailers to bring in a substantial amount of money.
WAD has started making small monthly payments to the IRS. It is unknown how much of the district’s debt is penalties for not paying on time.
In the interim, area ambulance districts, including PCAD, Johnson County Ambulance District and Cole Camp Ambulance District, have sent ambulances to Windsor when needed if they had a crew available. PCAD is also providing an ambulance at home football games for Windsor High School this season.
“We thank you for coming into Windsor to help our citizens,” Galloway told the PCAD board at the beginning of the meeting. “We appreciate that greatly.”
To supplement that assistance, the Windsor Four County Fire Department, comprised of volunteers, has been responding to medical calls to help until an ambulance arrives. Capt. Dennis Bowers, who was at Tuesday’s meeting, said about half of the volunteers are going through first responder training and the other half will complete the same training once the first group is finished.
The PCAD board was asked if they would consider putting a single ambulance at the WAD facility on North Windsor Street to help Windsor. Clippert replied by saying the PCAD board hadn’t officially discussed the idea.
“The board hasn’t spoken about that. We have fairly loosely and informally, but as you said, that doesn’t do you a whole lot of good for the whole district,” Clippert said. “If the (Windsor) district were dissolved, we would take our Pettis folks, and Johnson County was kind of the same way. As far as that, we have not spoken in that direction about something like that.”
PCAD Administrator Mike Gardner asked Galloway what their lawyer, Frank Foster, recommended long-term for the district as a whole.
“Frank, and the board agrees, said there’s no visible way we can see of the Windsor Ambulance District working independently,” Galloway replied. “And so basically our two options are, one to dissolve, the second is to enter a contract services.”
The WAD board has started looking into contract services with private companies, similar to how Pettis County citizens received ambulance services before the creation of PCAD two years ago, but nothing has been set in stone.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.