County May Make Changes To Dispatch System Soon | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI

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Linden — Linden officials hope that ambulance response times may soon improve.

At the Jan. 24 meeting, Linden’s attorney Michael Gildner said he anticipated they would soon reach a positive outcome with the Genesee County 911 Consortium. Last month, County 911 executive director Tim Jones sent a letter to municipalities outlining a process for reaching an agreement with a specific ambulance provider in an effort to reduce long wait times.

Local officials have reported ambulance wait times of up to 21 minutes for a Level 1 medical call.

“The consortium finally has the idea of ​​recognizing local designations for communities that choose to have a particular provider,” Gildner said.

Linden takes advantage of this. Gildner recently sent Linden City Manager Ellen Glass a contract resolution with an ambulance provider. It has been approved by the consortium and will be presented to Linden City Council next month.

Even with these agreements, the county 911 dispatch is still the ultimate authority on who is called to answer calls.

All calls from the county’s 33 municipalities go through the Genesee County 911 dispatch center. Six ambulance providers provide EMS services in the county, which is a mix of private companies, hospital-affiliated nonprofits, and public nonprofit ambulance providers. The City of Fenton is the only municipality in the county that operates its own 911 dispatch center.

More and more municipalities contract with a specific ambulance provider.

The Township of Fenton entered into an agreement with Medstar Inc in early November 2021. Since the start of the agreement, response times have improved in the Township of Fenton. Average response times went from 12 minutes to 6:50-7 minutes.

Glass said Linden had a contract with STAT EMS for more than 10 years, but County 911 does not recognize it because of how the dispatch system works. She said not all ambulance providers are willing, or able, to enter into these agreements.

“Even if we get contracts, that doesn’t solve the staffing issues that obviously all industries have, especially ambulances. It will be interesting to see what happens,” Glass said.

On Monday, January 24, Linden City Council acknowledged receipt of a letter from attorney Scott Fraim of Henneke, Fraim & Dawes, representing Swartz Ambulance Service, Inc. He sent this letter to all municipalities in the county.

He wrote that the main reason for the shortage of ambulances and the long wait times is the lack of sufficient numbers of paramedics and licensed paramedics, and that municipalities entering into agreements with service providers specific ambulances will not solve the problem.

“Ambulance crews are on the front lines of being exposed to the COVID 19 virus,” the letter reads. Many crews have been infected with the virus and others have left the industry altogether, causing staffing shortages. EMT and paramedic training courses have been halted during the pandemic, and fewer people are entering this field of work.

However, Fraim does not believe that the best solution lies in contracts between municipalities and specific ambulance services.

“Since County 911 is the only 911 center authorized to dispatch Level 1 ambulance calls, this mandate would exclude all other ambulance providers, which are licensed by the State of Michigan to operate throughout the county. of Genesee, to respond to an emergency ambulance call. services within the jurisdiction of this local unit of government (LUG),” Fraim wrote, adding that he suspects these municipalities will have to rely solely on the availability of their contracted provider.

“An exclusive ambulance provider contract won’t magically put more ambulances on the road,” the letter says, but it could divert existing ambulance units that currently cover all of Genesee County to focus instead. on the municipalities with which they contract, which could cause other jurisdictions to have reduced availability.

He wrote that he was not aware of any studies showing that Level 1 response times are longer than the national benchmark of eight minutes, 59 seconds for urban areas and 12 minutes, 59 seconds for rural areas 90% of the time.

He said municipalities pursuing these contracts were not legal and would subject municipalities to an increased risk of liability.

“Since a LUG has no governmental authority over a 911 center, there would be no rational basis for requiring an order/resolution from a LUG requiring a 911 center to only dispatch its provider contracted ambulance when there is no legal right to fulfill this requirement,” said Fraim.

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