How long is too long for an EMS response?

Voters in Ralls County will decide on a tax levy increase Tuesday April 3 that will decide the future of the Ralls County Ambulance District.

Currently, the two ambulances in Perry, Mo. serve a large portion of the county, but the ambulance district still needs assistance from Marion County for areas such as New London.

"Our problem is that with the ambulance in Perry, it takes too long to get to New London, so the people in Marion County have to come from there. Marion County ambulances serve the New London portion of our county with their busiest ambulance. Basically if it's busy in Marion County, the New London people, Saverton people may have to wait for somebody to come from Palmyra or even on the north side of town, which is too long," said Wiley Hibbard, president of the Ralls County Ambulance District.

The proposed 24-cent tax increase would allow the ambulance district to have a 24/7 presence in Perry and add an ambulance location in New London. The Perry location gets more than 300 calls per year and covers the area to Route F including Center, MO.

Roy Fishback, a Perry resident, beleives he owes his life to the Ralls County Ambulance District.

"I've had three heart attacks and they've come, and I'm still living," said Fishback.

Hibbard said that emergency responders are able to get to the ambulance district within two to three minutes of receiving an emergency call.

"We're putting it before the people now, because if it doesn't pass, we're going to have to look at dissolving the ambulance district," Hibbard explained.

The Perry area would then be served from Paris, Mo. which is about 20 minutes away. Taxpayers would still have to pay for an emergency response service. If the Perry location closes, residents of the area would then pay the 43-cent tax rate for Monroe County, which is one cent higher than the Ralls County rate would be with the increase.