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Road Closure Slows Ambulance Service

Road Closure Slows Ambulance Service

By Mike Scott

Road Closed Ahead. Local Traffic Only.

The barricades closing US Highway 61/136 near Alexandria for the fifth time this year due to flooding are only an inconvenience to most drivers. A few miles out of the way, a few more miles on Lee County’s gravel roads, and a few more minutes to Keokuk aren’t anything to get too excited over.

To Clark County Ambulance Crew members, those few minutes can literally mean the difference between life and death for a patient. A trip to Keokuk Area Hospital that usually takes 25 minutes can now take 35-40 minutes.

Those minutes can be crucial for heart attack or stroke victims, as getting patients to be treated at the hospital within an hour is very important.

“When the road is closed, it narrows the time the hospital has to start treatment,” said Clark County paramedic Steven Malone.

The ambulance crews have the option to transport patients to other hospitals, usually by patient request.

“We’ve had a few request Ft. Madison lately,” said Malone. In the western areas of the county, Scotland County Hospital is often the choice. Another possibility is the Air Evac helicopter. Malone said the crews are more likely to call the helicopter when roads are closed.
The district faces added costs with the added miles of detour, mostly in fuel expense.
“It’s 10 miles farther to Keokuk, each way,’” said Cinda James, Director.

Patients, or their insurance companies, are charged $11.50 per loaded mile, so the extra ten miles ads $115 to the cost of the ambulance trip.