As many debates about health care hinge on politics these days as on investments and profit.\r\nMany question how so much of our nation\u2019s health care model is predicated on money.\r\nYou\u2019d think we would know better than plunging into the middle of such debates by now.\r\nBut we make exceptions, and one reservation we maintain for doing so is in cases of life and death.\r\nIn 1982, the Monongalia County Commission signed off on a mutual-aid agreement with EMS services that regulates how ambulances are dispatched. That agreement designated Mon Health EMS as the county\u2019s primary EMS service.\r\nIf Mon EMS was unavailable to respond, the call would go to Star City EMS or Jan-Care. In 2017, Mon Health EMS responded to 85 percent of nearly 17,800 EMS calls in our county.\r\nThat agreement was most recently renewed in 2014 and is set to expire in June 2019.\r\nIn February, WVU Hospitals announced it added another ambulance service to the county \u2014 HealthTeam Critical Care Transport \u2014 with four satellite stations outside the Morgantown area.\r\nSoon after that, some residents in western Monongalia County requested that nearby HealthTeam ambulances be allowed to respond there first.\r\nInitially, WVUH said it would refuse to sign on to the county\u2019s mutual-aid agreement as another backup to Mon Health EMS. However, it has since changed its position. Now, it says it will sign on to the agreement.\r\nBut, it said it would only do so in a letter with one caveat: Declaring this agreement exposes the county and Mon Health EMS to \u201csubstantial liability.\u201d\r\nThat is, by \u201cinstitutionalizing a 911 system that guarantees certain residents ... will have to wait unreasonably long periods of time for emergency care.\u201d\r\nWe are not going to argue against this agreement based on potential liability, but rather simply on improving outcomes in emergencies.\r\nIn a rural state, such as ours, that doesn\u2019t have enough EMS coverage in the first place in many outlying areas, the more emergency crews stationed, the better.\r\nIn Mon Health EMS\u2019s defense, it already provides staging and roaming ambulances in areas of the county far beyond its central facility. It is also planning to open a two-vehicle garage across I-79 from the University Town Centre in August.\r\nYet, we cannot help but agree with WVUH\u2019s position that placing more EMS stations across the area can only help reduce response times.\r\nMinutes, even seconds, can matter in emergencies. That\u2019s why the county should insist that the closest available ambulance service respond, no matter who owns it.\r\nAs WVUH\u2019s response succinctly sums up this position, \u201cThere is no other defensible position.\u201d\r\nThere are lives in the balance.