HUBBARD Ambulance plan needs funding

The community-operated system would gradually phase in full capabilities.
HUBBARD -- A levy will be needed if the Hubbard Volunteer Fire Department is to provide ambulance service to the city and township.
"Unless properly funded, we're not going to do it," says Fire Chief Dave Kyle. "It's a dead issue unless the city and township find the funding."
A community-operated ambulance service has been discussed for years, said Safety Director Robert Paterniti, who has been promoting it.
Paterniti said there is a need for a local ambulance service to increase response time.
Finding the money
Many communities contract with private companies because operating an ambulance service is so costly.
The requirement for a money-generating issue is contained in a five-year plan developed by a fire department committee at the request of the city.
If a resident needs an ambulance, 911 is called; usually, Rural/Metro Ambulance, a private company, responds.
According to the plan, the department needs $388,625 to start an ambulance operation.
Included is $62,000 for a new ambulance, $215,200 in wages for around-the-clock service and $40,000 to modify the fire station to accommodate an ambulance.
The plan estimates the service will cost $280,000 annually and generate $180,000 through Medicare, Medicaid, workers' compensation and other forms of insurance.
Paterniti said he is convinced that the service can become self-supporting eventually.
"Unless we do this the right way, we're not going to do it at all," Kyle asserted.
Gradual service
If the service is started by the city and township, the fire department would operate as first responder the first year.
Under this level of response, the department will respond and stabilize a patient but leave patient transportation to a private ambulance.
In the second year, according to the plan, fire station modifications will be completed to house an ambulance and service provided at the "basic level." The ambulance will be staffed by two part-timers around the clock.
In the third year, emergency medical technicians and paramedics will be ready to provide advanced life support.
At the same time, the department will begin an "aggressive" fire inspection program.
The department performs only one inspection a week.
"There are many violations that are stumbled upon or discovered as a result of having a fire call. There are so many violations in the community that need to be corrected that it could be a full-time job even at this time," the plan said.
During the fifth year, a new ambulance will be needed and a second crew put on using both ambulances.
Methods of funding
Mayor George Praznik said he hasn't discussed financing of the service with Paterniti.
One way of partially financing ambulance service, the mayor explained, is for residents to pay a premium, like that of an insurance policy, for future use of the service.
Praznik said the primary complaint with ambulance service is slow response time.
"Definitely, there is a big interest in the community," Praznik said. "It's hard when you have to depend on outside help."

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