08-24-2017 Hartford City Council continues discussions to retain Medic 1 at a special meeting, then,

Hartford City Council continues discussions to retain Medic 1 at a special meeting, then, at workshop, proposes to vote on resolution to drop service contract at August 28 meeting

By Nancy Albright

At a special meeting held on August 16 the City Council resumed discussions around retaining Medic 1 Ambulance as Hartford’s emergency services provider for 2018.

Three issues have officially been under discussion since March 7, 2017: That Medic 1 to station an ambulance in Hartford on a routine basis; the emergency dispatch protocol; and the Hartford ambulance being put into use as a transfer vehicle.

As explained in March by Medic 1 Operations Manager Bob Hale Hartford and Watervliet Township share the cost of one emergency vehicle. An ambulance is stationed in both communities on a regular basis.

Hale explained further that emergency vehicle operations are coordinated by Van Buren County Central Dispatch, the county-wide hub for emergency fleet logistics. Medic 1 does not contact other providers directly to request backup when needed to transfer patients.

Asking the questions

Mayor Ted Johnson opened Wednesday evening’s discussion by voicing his dissatisfaction with Medic 1’s response time to a 911 call he placed at 4:04 a.m. on Wednesday, August 16, 2017. Johnson stated that by his estimate the emergency vehicle arrived at his home approximately 35 minutes after he placed the call. His call was answered by Cass County 911 services where he was requested to answer a series of questions, which subsequently resulted in the call being routed to Van Buren County 911 where he answered another series of questions.

There are two Van Buren County 911 operators on duty during the early hours of the morning. If both operators are engaged on other calls the phone system automatically routes calls to Cass County 911. Cass County routes calls back to Van Buren County as soon as Van Buren is available. Hale explained that the call routing issue has nothing to do with Medic 1. The protocol is out of Medic 1’s control and the ambulance service is not in a position to change it. Hale did however offer to act as an advocate on behalf of Hartford to bring the problem to the attention of the proper Van Buren County authorities.

City Commissioner Ron Burleson asked Hale how Medic 1 is dealing with the high level of road construction currently taking place in Hartford. He believes an ambulance always sitting in Hartford would lower response times in light of the construction on I-94.

Hale said that Medic 1 adjusts routes based on travel information received from the Van Buren County Road Commission and current reports state I-94 is passable. When asked about the construction project at Red Arrow Highway and 72nd Street, Hale said the project is now complete and that ambulances traveled through the construction with the exception of a couple of days where drivers adjusted their routes.

Township trustee John McClellan told the council that he has heard no complaints from the public. He asked the council if any of them have complaints about Medic 1 service, to which all responded “No” with the exception of Mayor Johnson.

Weighing the options

Hartford resident Judy Sinclair asked the council if they have investigated other emergency service providers such as Pride Care or spoken with other municipalities. “You need to look at the pros and cons of other emergency services.”

Medic 1’s base response time for Priority 1 calls is 12 minutes. Pride Care’s base response time for Priority 1 calls is 8:59. Pride has 21 vehicles, 13 of which are on the road 24/7 covering 530 square miles in Van Buren County. Medic 1’s fleet consists of 13 vehicles, six of which are on the road 24/7 serving a population of 125,000 residents in both Van Buren and Berrien counties.