Congress passes appropriation bills for two ambulance purchases, one fire engine

During the 10th Special Session, the Seventh Osage Nation Congress passed three appropriation bills to fund two ambulance vehicle purchases for Pawhuska and Hominy and one fire engine unit for the Grayhorse Rural Fire Department.

The three appropriation requests were considered as the special session focused on various appropriation bills to fund respective projects and endeavors with American Rescue Plan Act funds. Several Congress members sponsored and filed the bills requesting money from the initial disbursement of federal ARPA money the Nation received which totaled $108.3 million.

As the special session discussion focused on which bills would receive ARPA funding, the bills received amendments for the funding sources to come from tribal funding in the General Treasury versus the ARPA funding. Those bills approved are:

ONCA 21-62 (sponsored by Congressman John Maker) is a $230,000 appropriation bill to fund an ambulance purchase for Hominy EMS to replace an older unit with wear and tear maintenance issues. The bill received initial consideration in the Congressional Health and Social Services Committee with Hominy EMS director April Thompson attending.

Thompson said Hominy EMS has two ambulance units with the oldest one being a 2008 Dodge model with engine and transmission issues and a 2015 Ford unit also with maintenance issues. According to support information provided by Maker and Thompson, an ambulance can cost as much as $200,000, with cost increases depending on model size, engine type and features added to the ambulance.

Congresswoman Alice Goodfox said she supports the purchase, noting Hominy does not have a hospital, the service also responds to calls in the outer areas including Wynona and a reliable ambulance is needed to transport patients to hospitals with the nearest in Cleveland as well as the Tulsa area.

Thompson said the COVID-19 pandemic hit Hominy hard with 80-90 calls for COVID-19-related emergencies within the last year. On average, the service receives 750 emergency calls, she said.

ONCA 21-85 (Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt) is a $239,900 appropriation bill for an ambulance purchase for Pawhuska EMS. Patrick Hailey, director of Pawhuska EMS, also met with the health and social services committee and said the city-owned service has three units, including a 2006 model that has constant repairs needed.

Hailey also said the ambulances have high mileage with calls that include serving outer communities and hospital runs, which include transfer drives to Tulsa. Pratt said she supported the bill, noting other communities nearby do not have the resources to have their own ambulance service and asked Hailey what other areas are covered. Hailey said the service usually covers areas within 10 miles of Pawhuska city limits and other areas if mutual aid is requested.

ONCA 21-86 (Goodfox) is a $60,000 appropriation bill for a fire engine unit for the Grayhorse Rural Fire Department. Goodfox said she received information noting the department covered 247 square miles and has seven firefighting units with various mileage that are model years 1986, 1997, 1969, 1972, 1984, 1985 and the most recent purchase is a 2007 model.

Goodfox said she filed the bill as an ARPA funding request, but since learned fire truck purchases are not allowable purchases with ARPA funds and ambulances are, so the funding source was changed to tribal funds for ONCA 21-86 and later the other two were amended during the session. All three bills passed unanimously on Aug. 2 during the special session.