N. Baltimore explores EMS options
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS , Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 09:30
NORTH BALTIMORE - Village council is exploring options to continue reviving its EMS department.
At Tuesday's council meeting, council members heard presentations from two private EMS companies, Hanco and LifeStar, to bring their services to town. Council is also considering making its volunteer EMS department a paid one, and also the idea of blending its own EMS department with one of the privatized services.
Issues with billing, response times and the ability to fill shifts have come to light recently.
Council reiterated it has made no decisions on which direction it plans to go, but is currently in the "fact gathering" stage.
"Nobody is looking at getting rid of anything at this point. We are just trying to look at all of our options," council member Janet Goldner said.
In advance of a future decision on the matter, council gave first reading to an ordinance to place a levy on the May ballot.
The resolution is part of a two-step process to place a levy on the ballot. Tuesday's proposed legislation asked the Wood County Auditor to calculate the how much a five-year, 3-mill levy would generate to provide for EMS operations. While an exact amount will need to be calculated, council has estimated the annual revenue from the proposed levy would be $124,000.
Jessica Brumbaugh, an EMT for the village, pleaded with council members to look past the issues from years past and to focus on the future of the department. She said the department, under the direction of new EMS chief Eric Larson, has made great strides in addressing the above issues.
"We've got a very rich history here," she said.
Privatizing the EMS service, she said "would be a big mistake on the village's part."
"What I am asking for is some support for your local volunteers and local EMS. I think we are on a great path. With Mr. Larson here, I've seen dramatic improvements, especially with morale," Brumbaugh continued.
"We've had leadership in the past that was unsuccessful," she said.
"I want you to look at where we are at right now and put a little trust in your local volunteers," she said.
Several other EMS volunteers also spoke at the meeting in support of keeping the EMS department "in-house."
Council members and Mayor Mike Julien expressed great appreciation for the job volunteers do, but also said not having runs covered and delayed response times has become a potential public safety issue.
"One of our main concerns is lack of volunteers and people signing up to run and then having to call for outside help," said council member Leslee Thompson.
The EMS department continues to face increasing numbers of emergency responses. On average, it makes 450 runs per year.
"When we talk about the missed runs, we don't always take into account the runs we made," Julien said
"While we may be missing three to four runs per month, there may have been 35 runs that helped save lives. But even missing one run is unacceptable and I think you guys agree," Julien said.
Both of the privatized EMS services laid out several different options for bringing services to the village. Both entities said, if contracted, they planned to have an EMS crew within the village, which would be housed in the EMS bays.
To continue the decision-making process on the future of the EMS department, council has slated two public information meetings at the North Baltimore library. The first will be at 9 a.m. on Jan. 23 and the second will be at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27. A special council meeting to make a decision is planned for Jan. 28.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, council:
• Approved a $16,900 budget for the tree commission in 2014.
• Officially dissolved the Henry Township-North Baltimore Joint Economic Development District.