Recently, I had a medical emergency which required a visit from the Independence Township EMS. They arrived within five minutes, assessed my case, inserted an IV with a drip bag, and transported me to the St. Joe’s level two trauma center. I was very fortunate, not only because I recovered, but because I received prompt and appropriate service from our fire department paramedics. You may not be so lucky!
According to the millage for fire and emergency services we renewed in 2016, we chose to continue support for the services we approved in 2012; that support was for restoring the full time personnel to 10 (significant cutbacks had occurred due to the preceding economic downturn), capital improvements, and continuation of a fire prevention division. We were to return to having three fully staffed fire stations, each with its own EMS vehicle and paramedic team. This is the emergency “health insurance” policy we wanted and agreed to pay for!
Today, for a variety of reasons, that “restoration” has not occurred. We are operating with only eight, sometimes seven, full time firefighter/paramedics; they often work overtime and are supplemented with part time employees with only two of the four EMS vehicles in service. When additional service is needed, the Brandon Township Fire Department and Star EMS are asked to help, if available.
The number of older adults living in the area is increasing, and their average age is increasing. And, the number of assisted living facilities is increasing. These facts add to the number/frequency of EMS “runs.”
About 80 percent of the fire department runs are not fire related.
There are at least three problems with the current “state of affairs.” First, an EMT is not a paramedic. A paramedic is qualified to administer medications and insert an IV if needed; an EMT is not – by law.
Second, only two of our four EMS vehicles are “in service” due to the lack of staff.
Third, response times are often increased due to lack of staff, and the distances which Brandon and Star have to travel to service Independence Township.
All of this means that we not as likely to get the “emergency health insurance” we are paying for. This is especially “scary” since many of us are getting older!
We needed help three years ago, and we need it even more today. But, Independence Township is not fulfilling its responsibility; we are not getting what was paid for – yes, I did, but I/we may not next time and our lives may depend on it!