Emergency medical support curtailed
Apr. 22, 2013 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Fire chiefs from Canton Township, Livonia and Northville Township say their departments will no longer subsidize Plymouth Township Fire Department emergency medical calls.
This week the three public safety professionals sent written notice to Plymouth Township Fire Chief Mark Wendel stating that effective immediately their departments will no longer respond to requests for back up when the township has already dispatched any private company to the scene.
Calling the EMS mutual aid dispatch requests a waste of resources that leaves their communities at risk, the chiefs are ending a long-standing verbal agreement within the surrounding departments to help the Plymouth
Township Department which has been reduced to a skeleton crew by layoffs.
In the letter the chiefs stated, “While we are willing to provide mutual aid, we do not believe it is necessary to respond when you have already dispatched a private ambulance to the emergency. As you know, our three communities provide full service EMS and do not rely on private ambulance companies as part of our response. As such, we will not subsidize the response to EMS calls any differently than we do in our own communities.”
The three public safety leaders said that they could not in good conscience continue to subsidize a private ambulance company, shoring their community of necessary manpower and then hand off patients.
“We’ve been looking at this for a long time and we expressed our concerns to Chief Wendel over a year ago,” noted Northville Township Fire Chief Rich Marinucci.
Northville Township keeps two active ambulance rigs in service at all times, Marinucci said. “We don’t need to strip our community. If I’m going to send personnel, they’re not going to stand by.”
Marinucci is also executive board president of the Western Wayne County Fire Department Mutual Aid Association formed in 1987 comprising 23 communities and 45 members whose mission is to render reciprocal aid between member communities and their agencies in fire protection, emergency medical services and in other emergencies.
“When we’re needed, we’ll go, but I can’t be sending people to what amounts to a false alarm.” Marinucci said. “We’re not subsidizing other ambulance companies, HVA or any other private company. Our job is to protect our community.”
Plymouth Township restricts fire department paramedics from transporting patients, except in critical or priority one cases. Township EMS must wait for HVA as a matter of policy set by the board of trustees to transport the patients. HVA is instructed to transport in all possible cases and is allowed to collect the revenue from the patient or insurance company.
“The patient gets better care, continuity of treatment when they’re not handed off. Besides the dollars stay in our community,” Marinucci said.
Canton Township maintains four ambulance rigs in active service. Director of Public Safety Todd Mutchler said there will be no change in mutual aid when it comes to fires. “We are complying with all mutual aid requirements.”
Wendel said he didn’t want to comment on the letter at this time until he received an official copy, but admitted he had a copy that he received by email.
Plymouth Township has been requesting the mutual aid from the other communities regularly because the arrival time of HVA can be uncertain, a source close to the situation said. “HVA does not always have a rig available in the area for the cities of Northville or Plymouth or Plymouth Township. They ask for back up and our guys do the triage and treatment, but then HVA transports so we are, essentially, subsidizing these other departments,” the source said. “When they (HVA) are called, they could be in South Lyon or Ann Arbor, it just depends. ”
City of Northville Fire Chief Jim Allen, whose department provides service for the City of Plymouth, said the change in policy wouldn’t affect the cities his department serves, because, “We don’t have ALS (Advanced Life Support). We rely on Community EMS (a private company) and Plymouth City has HVA.”
The letter was signed by Northville Township Director of Public Safety John E. Werth, City of Livonia Fire Chief Shadd Whitehead and Mutchler.
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