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Trustees hear ambulance service evaluation

November 13, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

During a special meeting on Nov. 12, Boardman Township Trustees got to hear a report on possible township ambulance service. The committee charged with researching it and making recommendations was formed last year.

"This was the cumulative effort of one year's work," said Township Administrator Jason Loree.

The committee, known as the Boardman Township Exploritory EMS Committee, was made up of Attorney Thomas Sanborn, Akron Children's Hospital (ACH) Respiratory Care Director, Jeff Michalenok from Cailor Fleming Insurance, ACH EMS Program Coordinator Maryann Forrester, St. Elizabeth Hospital Trauma Injury Prevention and Outrach Coordinator Amanda Lencyk, YSU Dept. of Health Professions Professor Joseph Mistovich, Boardman Fire Chief Mark Pitzer, Boardman Police Chief Todd Werth, Boardman Administrator Loree, and Chemical Bank Assistant Vice President Daniel Segool, who was named spokesman for the meeting.

Segool went over the evaluation and recommendations using a summary brief. The concern is in average response time to 9-1-1 calls, which presently is at 4.5 minutes for Boardman fire trucks to arrive. Boardman's emergency medical crew is equipped to provide basic life support until an ambulance shows up and takes over care and transport of the patient.

"There is an upward trend of EMS calls over recent years, which will exacerbate delays in 9-1-1 responses to our community," Segool said.

Realizing the growing problem, the committee began looking at what it would take to improve emergency care in the township.

The committee came up with four options for trustees to look at. The first option was simply to keep things as they are right now. The benefit of doing that is the fact there would be no financial impact on the township or its constituents.

"The risk is for adverse events due to 9-1-1 response time delays, including temporary or permanent harm including risk of death," Segool told trustees.

Option two was to have the township operate a single EMS unit, or ambulance, out of the main fire station. This option only addresses a small portion of the need and would still require contracted services from a private ambulance company.

"Given that emergency medical calls average 12 per day, this wouldn't be sufficient," Segool said. "It does not improve 9-1-1 or emergency medical services.

Option three would be two ambulances working out of the main station, or one at the main and one at another station. This would improve 9-1-1 emergency medical service, and would mean fewer calls for the large fire trucks to respond to saving in wear and tear for none-fire calls and the expense of operating the larger vehicles. Even with two, it does not address the township's needs. There would still be a need for outside ambulance services to provide back up.

Option four, the final option, is the one the committee felt would solve the problems, but at a cost. The option called for three EMS units that could solve the majority of EMS calls. Mutual aid agreements could be made to accommodate surges in calls.

With the ambulances, training, supplies and equipment and personnel, the cost for Option 4 would total $1,688,173. 81 in year one, and would rise to $1,803,864.98 in year three.

"Year one would have start-up costs associated with hiring, training, equipment and software," Segool said. "The revenues listed [in the summary report] were done with the assumption that everything is in place to run an EMS at the start of the year."

The committee estimated revenues ranging from $973,905.64 to $1,094,280.38 over the three years. It still left a deficit in the vicinity of $700,000. A lot of that depended on billing.

If the township hard billed for the ambulance ride and medical services, then everyone would be responsible for whatever the insurance company didn't cover.

If the township soft billed, it would mean all Boardman residents would have their insurance company billed. The township would accept the insurance amount and then write off the remaining balance for only township residents. Non-residents would be hard billed.

The final option would be for the township to not bill for all residents using the service. Only non-residents would pay.

"It is the recommendation of the Boardman Township Exploratory EMS Committee to support a three-unit model," Segool said. "This means locating and ambulance and crew at each fire station in Boardman."

He said it would require funding above what revenue is expected. The plan also included four new ambulances, with one of them serving as a back up. Segool said the township could buy a used one for back up and save some funds.

Trustees asked Fire Chief Mark Pitzer how many personnel were trained to be on an ambulance crew.

"We presently have 11 paramedics, 2 Advanced EMT's, 15 EMT's, and 10 EMRs (Emergency Medical Responders)," Pitzer said. "The EMR's could only be on an ambulance crew if there were three and two were EMTs or paramedics."

Regarding the ambulance itself, Segool said they cost around $200,000 and would last roughly 12 years.

One final note Pitzer made was the number of calls run each year. He said last year the fire department went on over 5,000 calls, of which roughly 3,800 were for EMS.

Trustee Larry Moliterno said the next step is to have public input. Loree said he would get the evaluation in its entirety placed on the township's web site for all Boardman residents to view.



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