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story.lead_photo.caption Photo submitted Gentry and Benton County officials joined with Northwest Health leaders to participate in a push-in ceremony at the Gentry Fire Department on Dec. 31. The ceremony marked the launch of EMS coverage in western Benton County, which began on Jan. 1. Pictured, from left, are Kevin Johnston, Gentry Mayor; Charles Hall, Assistant CEO of Northwest Medical Center-Springdale; Robert McGowan, administrator of Benton County's Division of Public Safety; Barry Moehring, Benton County Judge; Mike Pittman, Director of EMS for Northwest Health; and Vester Cripps, Gentry Fire Chief.

Officials from Gentry, Benton County and Northwest Health pushed a new ambulance into a truck bay at the Gentry Fire Department on Dec. 31, 2018, commemorating the launch of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coverage in western Benton County.

It's the first time an ambulance has been stationed in the city of Gentry, according to a press release from Northwest Health. The ambulance was one of three Northwest Health EMS vehicles in Western Benton County to officially go into service at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1. The other ambulances are stationed at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital, part of the Northwest Health network, and in Gravette.

A push-in ceremony comes from a long-held tradition that goes back to the days of horse-drawn fire wagons. Back in the days of horse-drawn carriages, firefighters would wash the truck and actually push it into the station, symbolizing the meticulous care firefighters take of their equipment. Rolling the vehicle into the bay is more symbolic today, aided by the help of an engine, due to the weight of the truck.

Northwest Health EMS began providing emergency services for the west side of Benton County on Jan. 1, following an agreement finalized in the fall between Benton County and the cities of Gentry and Decatur. The agreement places the three Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances in the west side of Benton County while saving Benton County residents more than $195,000. This new contract encompasses EMS services for the fire districts in Sulphur Springs, Gravette, Maysville, Decatur, Gentry and Gallatin, including the cities of Gentry and Decatur.

"Both Siloam Springs and Gravette have told us their costs for running ambulances into unincorporated Benton County have been rapidly increasing," said Benton County Judge Barry Moehring. "Our agreement with Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services gives us the opportunity to address those cost increases, while at the same time providing more lifesaving equipment and personnel to westside residents."

With the new contract, Northwest Health is placing an ambulance in both Gentry and in Gravette. Additionally, a Northwest Health ambulance currently stationed at Northwest Health's Siloam Springs Regional Hospital will also help cover 9-1-1 calls, expanding EMS coverage in the region. In addition to increased ground ambulance support, Northwest Health will be providing air medical services through AirEvac, its air medical partner.

Siloam Springs will still maintain an agreement with Benton County for EMS coverage in the Siloam Springs Fire District. This is a reduction in the territory previously covered, which included Gentry, Gallatin, part of the Decatur and part of the Highfill fire districts in addition to the Siloam Springs district. The City of Gravette will continue to provide EMS services within the city limits of Gravette and Sulphur Springs.

"The incorporation of Emergency Medical Services from Northwest Health with existing services in Western Benton County means that our citizens, neighbors and visitors could experience a more rapid response to their medical needs," said Gentry Mayor Kevin Johnston. "This could allow more time for patients to receive the most appropriate care from the most appropriate facility in the most appropriate time frame. Coupled with the opportunities of community outreach through resources and educational support, this partnership will continue to show newly recognized benefits for many years."

Gentry Fire Chief Vester Cripps says this addition of service for all of western Benton County will improve the community's well-being.

"The Gentry Fire Department is excited about Northwest Health Emergency Medical Services coming to Gentry and providing Emergency Medical Services to the residents of the Gentry area," he said."We are confident they will provide a great service and reduce response times for the residents of Gentry."

"Three additional ambulance units located on the west side of Benton County will improve response times and that will be a blessing," said Decatur Mayor Bob Tharp. "Decatur is a community that has a large number of industrial workers employed in our town at any time. That number increases our current population, so having a stronger ALS service presence will be good. With the projected growth for the cities of Decatur and Gentry, this proposal will enable our cities to provide medical services to our constituents and visitors for the future."

Northwest Health CEO Denten Park says he looks forward to working with Benton County and expanding the health care services for citizens.

"We've been blessed to serve Benton County residents for many years with two hospitals and numerous clinics located in the county," said Park. "We are excited about this new partnership with the county to expand emergency service capabilities for citizens in these communities.

"To ensure the highest level of care and expand treatment options, we're proud to provide three advanced life support ambulances with placement designed to improve response times to the Western corridor of Benton County. During a medical emergency, every second counts, so this results in enhancing the quality of health care for patients."

General News on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: Ceremony launches new EMS in western Benton County

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