Help Is On The Way
Jeffersontown Gets Its Own Ambulance Service
Writer / Tyrel Kessinger
If you’re anything like me, you’ve never wondered where ambulances come from just so as long as they come from somewhere. But in fact, most communities in Louisville, and Kentucky in general, don’t have their own first responder service and are ultimately “farmed” out to third-party contractors. In this, Jeffersontown is no different. Though on April 16, that all began to change as J-Town will begin managing its own ambulance services for the community.
The man spearheading this new direction of a fully self-dependent Jeffersontown (at least in terms of public services) is James Sebastian, Chief Deputy and 30-year veteran of the Jeffersontown Fire Department. And there’s certainly no one better qualified to assess Jeffersontown’s need for their own ambulances. He’s seen it all, up close and personal and from the ground floor.
“During the last several years we have seen the increase in emergency response when it comes to hospital transport from emergency incidents and—“ Sebastian pauses and a radio hiss can be heard in the background. As if on cue he tells he may be getting a “call” right now before dismissing it. “Sorry about that,” he says before picking back right back up. “Anyway, ambulance times were getting longer due to the increased run volume in all of Metro Louisville and we believed the citizens of Jeffersontown deserved a better response. So what we did about a year and a half ago was that we started the process for new ambulances.”
It took almost two years, but in December of 2017 Jeffersontown was awarded approval for its “application certificate of need” for its very own transport service. Sebastian spent his time doing background work.
“We found out how much ambulances cost and how much the equipment would cost,” he says. “After they [Metro] approved it we started buying the equipment to prepare ourselves for that next step of transporting injured people from the community to the hospital in a timely manner. We’ll have two brand new ambulances that we purchased from Horton Ambulance Service.”
“Really, we purchased three,” Sebastian adds. “Two to respond and one as a reserve for general maintenance and such.”
Sebastian’s desire to establish Jeffersontown’s own ambulance service is due to two things: his love for the town and his belief that its citizens deserve the best, fastest and most accessible first response healthcare and subsequent transportation. As such, he’s also taking steps to protect against the pitfalls so often encountered in the EMS field.
“Louisville Metro did 144,000 runs last year, approximately,” Sebastian says. “That means every ambulance they have is running 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Something we’ve seen is emergency responders can get burned out easy and the thing that we’re also doing in our own district is that we’re sending out some of our own firefighters to paramedic class to get certified to provide that additional medical care. When you see a fire truck you’re going to have a paramedic on there also. With that advance medical care and the ambulances, we can provide a much more timely transport.”
Currently, Jeffersontown uses Yellow Ambulance, a popular third-party contractor for its services. To prepare for this takeover, Sebastian plans to have J-Town’s ambulances up and running two weeks prior to the end of Yellow’s contract, which was scheduled for May 1.
But Sebastian isn’t worried. In fact, he practically guarantees success.
“We anticipate the 4,400 runs a year in the Jeffersontown area, as in taking someone to the hospital,” he says. “We’ll have to prepare ourselves for the run volume but I know we can provide a better service. And we’ll be providing access to two ambulances.”
For those wondering the exact size of boundaries in terms of the Jeffersontown ambulance jurisdiction, Sebastian explains it precisely: “When we put in the certificate of need it was for the Jeffersontown City Limits and the Jeffersontown Fire District. The city limits are right around nine square miles and the fire district being a total of 25 square miles. And they do overlap a little bit.”
It’s obvious Sebastian is both excited and proud of this new endeavor, not only for the immediate medical benefits this new step will provide for Jeffersontown but what it means for the community’s bigger picture.
“This new ambulance service does make Jeffersontown, as a community, a one-stop service when it comes to police service, public works, fire and EMS,” Sebastian says. “We do everything here and there are not too many agencies in the state of Kentucky that can provide all of those services. We believe that citizens of the community deserve the best service, the best care possible. And we also believe that is our obligation to step up to the plate and provide that service.”