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Boardman considers EMS plans

BOARDMAN — Boardman officials are studying how to improve — and pay for — emergency care in the township.

Trustees on Tuesday heard a report on possible township ambulance service. A committee charged with researching the matter and making recommendations was formed last year.

The committee supports locating an ambulance and crew at each fire station in Boardman with four new ambulances, with one of them serving as a backup.

Trustee Larry Moliterno said the next step is to have public input. Township Administrator Jason Loree said he would get the evaluation in its entirety placed on the township’s website for all Boardman residents to view.

“This was the cumulative effort of one year’s work,” Loree said.

The Boardman Township Exploratory EMS Committee is made up of Thomas Sanborn, Akron Children’s Hospital respiratory care director; Jeff Michalenok from Cailor Fleming Insurance; Maryann Forrester, Akron Children’s EMS program coordinator; Amanda Lencyk, St. Elizabeth Hospital trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator; professor Joseph Mistovich of Youngstown State University Department of Health Professions; Boardman fire Chief Mark Pitzer; police Chief Todd Werth; Loree; and Chemical Bank Assistant Vice President Daniel Segool, who was named spokesman.

The concern is in average response time to 911 calls, which runs 4 1/2 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 transports the patient.

“There is an upward trend of EMS calls over recent years, which will exacerbate delays in 911 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 consider:

• Maintain status quo. There would be no financial impact on the township or its constituents.

“The risk is for adverse events due to 911 response time delays, including temporary or permanent harm including risk of death,” Segool told trustees.

• 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 911 or emergency medical services.”

• Two ambulances working out of the main station, or one at the main and one at another station. This would improve 911 emergency medical service, and would mean fewer calls for the large fire trucks to respond to — saving in wear and tear for non-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 backup, trustees were advised.

• The option the committee felt would solve the problems, but at a cost: Three EMS units that could handle 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 this option would total more than $1.6 million in year one, and would rise to $1.8 million in year three.

“Year one would have startup costs associated with hiring, training, equipment and software,” Segool said. “The revenues 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 to $1.09 million 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. Nonresidents would be hard billed.

Or the township could not bill for all residents using the service. Only non-residents would pay.

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

“We presently have 11 paramedics, two advanced EMTs, 15 EMTs, 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.

Pitzer said last year the fire department went on more than 5,000 calls, of which roughly 3,800 were for EMS.

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