Boardman officials mull EMS options
By Ashley Luthern
The fire chief told trustees Monday that a township-operated emergency medical service with ambulance transportation would not happen at this time and he would begin researching options with private ambulance providers.
Trustees had tasked Chief George Brown with evaluating different EMS models to decide whether the township wanted to change from its current policy of using several local ambulance services on a rotating basis with firefighters also answering medical calls as first responders.
Brown said the township EMS model would have required changes to the International Association of Firefighters Local 1176 contract.
“We worked at that plan with midterm negotiations, and we were unable to have any movement, so we’re now looking at private service providers,” Brown said.
The union’s president, Harry Wolfe, disagreed with the use of the word “negotiations” and said there was one meeting about the topic between the administration and the union that lasted less than 30 minutes.
“We did not bargain. They gave us a list of demands, and we said we wanted to talk about some other issues, and they left. It’s unfortunate, because if they really wanted to bargain, that’s what they would have done,” Wolfe said.
The administration brought four requests to the union that it deemed necessary to have a township EMS ambulance service: paramedic certifications for current firefighters, paramedic certifications for new hires, use of part-time firefighters and moving firefighters from truck to truck, Brown said.
Wolfe said the union objected only to part-time firefighters. Township firefighters have advocated for the start of a township-run ambulance service for years and released a feasibility study in 2009.
“It truly is a monumental task to quickly have changes in negotiations. We felt this [going with a private provider] would probably be the direction, but we wanted to give firefighters a chance,” said Trustee Chairman Brad Calhoun.
Township Administrator Jason Loree said the township is considering a preferred option in which it would contract with one provider in a long-term commitment to ensure ambulance service for township residents.
“The primary call would go from the dispatcher to the ambulance responder, and if they need more assistance, the paramedics would tell dispatch to contact the fire department. There will be contractual guidelines with any type of agreement about acceptable response times,” Loree said.
The township’s recent contracts with those outside ambulance companies stipulate a response time within nine minutes of the call 90 percent of the time, according to Vindicator files.