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Planning Begins for County Ambulance Service

Transfer of ambulances, equipment and staffing will be just the start of work to do before changeover next July.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Buchanan County will soon take over ambulance service.

That comes after voters overwhelmingly approved a 1/4 cent sales tax increase Tuesday.

More than $2.5 million yearly will be collected through the tax.

To start, money will go toward buying the nine Heartland ambulances that are currently on the streets.

The county will also develop an infrastructure for the service, such as finding space and building a new ambulance headquarters. Right now, ambulances are kept out at Heartland Hospital, but that will eventually change after the transfer of ownership.

"Probably in the next few weeks we'll start having conversations with Heartland again about transfer of assets, licensing," says Buchanan County Presiding Commissioner R.T. Turner. "There's a whole host of different things that we're going to have to take over when we take over."

Heartland will discontinue providing ambulance service July 1st of next year.

Officials at the hospital say they can no longer afford to cover the roughly $2 million per year it costs to provide the service.

Because of the short time frame between now and next July, the county will at first lease all equipment and staffing from Heartland and develop some kind of plan for a full purchase later.
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