TIPPECANOE COUNTY, IN - The effort to improve ambulance service in Tippecanoe County is getting a funding infusion from a group of township trustees, according to www.jconline.com.
Eleven of the county's trustees recently contributed to the $32,700 pot needed to purchase automatic vehicle location, or AVL, equipment for the ambulance fleet.
AVL systems transmit locations through a system similar to a cellular phone and are currently used in emergency vehicles, delivery and freight trucks, and service vehicles.
Tippecanoe County and ambulance officials have discussed the need for the technology, but hadn't found funding to get it until recently.
"When I found out that it might not be funded in the immediate future ... I thought this was something all the townships, particularly the rural townships, could go together to support," said Bill Jones, Tippecanoe Township trustee.
Jones said ambulance response time is an important topic to many residents who are concerned as the local hospital presence shifts to Lafayette's far east side.
Clarian Arnett Hospital opened at McCarty Lane and County Road 500 East in 2008, and St. Elizabeth East, a new hospital from St. Elizabeth Regional Health, is due to open near McCarty and Creasy lanes in late 2009.
"With both the new hospitals on the same side of town, it is a bit of a concern," said Kerry Kleiber, a resident on Lafayette's south side who had to call an ambulance for his mother-in-law a couple of weeks ago.
"Anything reasonable that gets the ambulance to the place they need to be as quickly as possible is a worthy expense," he said.
The new technology, which could be up and running by early February, will notify dispatchers of each ambulance's exact location, whether it's stationed somewhere in the county or driving back from a run. The information will help dispatchers send the closest unit to an emergency scene.
"We really believe that it's going to help response time," said Fairfield Township Trustee Julie Collins.
Additionally, the technology will map routes to each call location with the most updated information, said Allen Borck, operations manager for Tippecanoe Emergency Ambulance Service.
Borck said the locator technology will be a welcome addition to the county's existing and its newest ambulances.
Tippecanoe County purchased five new ambulances for the ambulance service late last year, at a cost of $610,000.
The ambulances recently arrived and were immediatly put into service, Borck said. They're replacing vehicles in the county's fleet that had more than 100,000 miles and regular maintenance issues.