On May 8th voters will cast their ballots for the Kanawha County Safety Levy. The levy collects about $17-million each year for local and county emergency services. First responders are emphasizing just how important this funding is to keep neighbors safe.
Jeff Broyles has been an EMT in Kanawha County for 15 years. When he goes out on a call, he knows every second counts.
“Especially in cardiac arrest, the longer we go, the less effective we’re going to be because the longer the brain goes without oxygen,” Broyles explained.
That’s why it’s so important to have ambulances stations throughout the county, so even homes on the border can still get an ambulance within minutes. But that’s only possible because of funding from the Safety Levy.
“We always try to have an ambulance covering the rural areas especially because we don’t like the longer response time, the quicker we can get there, then that’s what we want to do,” Broyles added.
Kanawha County ran about 60,000 ambulance calls last year. While insurance covers almost all of those, the reimbursement rates aren’t going up, and it’s getting more expensive to respond to emergencies.
“It’s been real tough cause none of the rates have gone up, Medicaid and Medicare are still paying the same thing that they have for years, and a lot of insurances are doing the same thing,” Broyles told 13 News.
The other problem is the cost of the supplies inside the ambulance have been going up, making the ambulance authority’s budget tighter every year.
“The cost of supplies has skyrocketted, such as narcan, and we’re using more and more of it. So increased expenses, decreased revenue, it causes everything to be tightened,” Wayne Harmon, Chief of Operations for the Kanawha County Ambulance Authority told 13 News.
The Charleston Chamber of Commerce will hold a rally Wednesday to encourage residents to vote in favor of the levy.
Money from the levy also goes towards the Kanawha Regional Transit bus system.
The primary election is May 8th.