Todd Ruckel

Judge Executive Todd Ruckel updated Fiscal Court on a "positive" meeting county officials had with Portsmouth Ambulance.

VANCEBURG – A meeting between Lewis County officials and Portsmouth Ambulance about response time concerns produced “very promising results,” according to Lewis County Judge-Executive Todd Ruckel.

Ruckel, accompanied by Sheriff Johnny Bivens, E-911 Director Mike Sparks and Emergency Management Director George Sparks, met with Mike Adkins Sr., Mike Adkins Jr. and Brian Estep of Portsmouth Ambulance Service, Inc.

The meeting arose from concerns that ambulance response times in the county were too slow.

“We went up to Portsmouth Ambulance offices and met with their leadership team and others,” Ruckel said. “I thought it was very positive.”

According to Ruckel, Portsmouth Ambulance agreed to implement several methods to decrease response time in the county.

“They’re going to put more experienced ambulance workers in with newer crews,” Ruckel said. “Hopefully that’s going to help with people knowing our area when they have to come into Lewis County.”

Ruckel said that Portsmouth Ambulance also started a new crew in Mason County recently and that they think it will help with response times in the Tollesboro area as Portsmouth Ambulance can send that crew instead of having to travel through all of Lewis County.

Backup ambulances in the county is another complaint Ruckel said was addressed.

“Backup units, instead of just coming into the county and sitting in the far eastern end will not report to Vanceburg,” Ruckel said. “This makes it more of a centrally located position.”

Ruckel said with locations in Mason County, Portsmouth, South Shore and Vanceburg, response times will hopefully be a lot better.

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“Something that we are going to do is urge businesses and houses to display their house numbers visibly along with getting county signs back up quickly,” Ruckel said. “I will contact the city and the state to make sure they update their signs.”

According to Ruckel, people on private roads are urged to put their signs up as well, even though the county is unable to enforce it.

An EMT scholarship program at Shawnee State University may also help with response times and Portsmouth Ambulance efficiency in the area.

“They basically guarantee you a job,” Ruckel said. “They informed me that if they had people from Lewis County enter that program it would help them hire people from Lewis County and keep people in the county.”

Ruckel said Portsmouth Ambulance is willing to train local firefighters to help with first response times until they get there.

According to Ruckel, his biggest takeaway from the meeting was an agreement between Lewis County government and Portsmouth Ambulance to set up quarterly meetings to hold everyone accountable for response times and services.

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