LAKE STATION — The city's emergency medical services department is fully operational after the municipality acquired a second ambulance.
Fire Chief Chuck Fazekas said the ambulance was received Feb. 13, and it passed inspection Feb. 18.
The new unit, which is now in service, was acquired to back up Lake Station's main advanced life support ambulance.
The new rig came at a cost of about $200,000. Financing documents for the purchase call for the city to begin annual payments in 2020.
With two ambulances available and a staff of paramedics and emergency medical technicians, Lake Station is now running its own full-time emergency medical service without the assistance of a private company, Fazekas said.
Kurtz Ambulance Service, which had been Lake Station's provider starting in 2017, is no longer responding to calls in the municipality, he said.
The contract with Kurtz required the company to have one ALS-certified ambulance dedicated to the city.
Fazekas said Kurtz lost its ALS certification with Indiana on Jan. 16, but the company still had basic life support status.
When Kurtz lost its ALS certification, Lake Station had one ambulance in operation to serve as a backup to the Kurtz unit. The city's ambulance had a BLS certification at that time, but it was quickly upgraded to ALS status so it could serve as the primary unit in the city.
Following the certification issue, Kurtz had operated as a backup to the city’s primary ambulance.
Mayor Christopher Anderson said Lake Station has long been considering purchasing a second ambulance so the municipality would no longer need to contract with a private emergency medical provider.
The recent situation with Kurtz prompted officials to place a greater emphasis on those efforts.
Anderson said a review of the city's ambulance rate structure could be needed to determine if the municipality should make adjustments.
In addition to the acquisition of the ambulance, the city is purchasing two Ford F-250 trucks for the Fire Department.
The total cost of the trucks is about $100,000, and they will be used by the chief and deputy chief as response vehicles.
Fazekas said the existing response trucks need to be replaced because of their age and mechanical issues.