Lowell Mayor Candidates Talk Plans For City Ambulance Service

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LOWELL (KFSM) - Lowell Mayor Eldon Long is running for re-election against former mayor Phil Biggers and challenger Eric Schein.

The candidates said one of the biggest issues is how to replace the ambulance service the city of Springdale is planning to discontinue after Jan. 1.

Long said the first of the year is only a target date and not a deadline.

"We actually have a plan in place of retrofitting this station with barracks this coming year if approved by the city council," Long said. "We also have a site out back to house a different truck so we can place an ambulance inside this facility."

Schein said the city has two paramedic engines, but if those engines are working a fire they cannot transport patients. He said the city needs to act quickly.

"We are to a point where we actually need to transport patients once they are injured or sick and with the lack of being able to transport," Shein said. "That's why the ambulatory service is so important."

Biggers said the city needs to consider all its options, but said he prefers creating a Lowell ambulance service.

"I just think Lowell needs to take care of Lowell," Biggers said. "How do you do it? First, you look at yourself and if you can't financially do it, then you look at how you have to do it, and the only way to do it is under contract with a different entity."

The city is also considering building a fire station on the west side of town.

Shein said he does not understand why the station is projected to be finished in 2017 when the plan has been in the works for a couple of years. He said adding the ambulatory service and a second station means more structures need to be built.

"Now their answer is three to four years down the road and I don't agree with that," Shein said. "This is something that we need very immediately and we are going to have to react to this even quicker now because we've kicked this can down the road."

The mayor said adding more services to the city takes time to plan and has been working on a graduated system.

"We have got to be sustainable in this program as well," Long said. "So we have got to give it all we have got, so we have to plan it incrementally so we don't pull back from other essential services in the city to make room for this. So it's very critical the timing we put into place to achieve that."

Biggers said he thinks the most important issue to tackle is the ambulatory service, and said he thinks the city should focus on necessities over a station that could be built later.

"I am glad right now that we have maintained really good coverage out in that area, and that it is not a must," Biggers said. "It is important to look at and plan for, but I think we have to address the biggest issue first and that is ambulance service."

Springdale has been providing ambulatory services to the Lowell area for over 25 years.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

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