In an effort to improve emergency medical coverage, the Batesville Fire Department could start answering all medical calls in the city limits.
While the Board of Aldermen did not take action on the matter during a recent meeting, the majority seemed, to an extent, in favor of it.
Gracie Grant-Gulledge of Tri-Lakes Medical Center told the board the Batesville Fire Department is the only department that does not respond to medical calls.
"To put this in perspective, there are two ambulances at Tri-Lakes and two in Sardis," she said. "To make matters worse, the run volume for the ambulance services has increased by nearly 1,000 percent in two years.
"What I am saying is, if you want to have better coverage, the fire department needs to start responding to medical calls and not just trauma calls," Grant-Gulledge said.
Grant-Gulledge told city leaders that Batesville has the equipment to handle the calls, but, because previous boards would not allow it, they have not been responding to calls.
"Your fire department already has the equipment on the trucks," she said. "It’s not something that will be an additional cost."
Fire Chief Tim Taylor told the aldermen he believes allowing the fire department to respond to medical calls would be a good thing.
"Periodically there are people without emergency medical care," he said. "There is an EMT on every shift at the department.
"I really think this will be a good move for the city," Taylor said. "The pluses will outweigh the minuses."
Alderwoman Bobby Jean Pounders spoke in favor of the move, but expressed concern firefighters may try to do more than their training allows.
"I just don’t want to open the city up to any additional liability from people acting above their level," she said.
Taylor assured the aldermen that no firefighter will act beyond his training.
The matter will be addressed at a later meeting.