Towns and townships in Delaware County came together Monday to make their case to county commissioners to end duplication of emergency medical services in the county.
County commissioners hosted a standing-room-only work session Monday afternoon to discuss the issue.
The county currently offers countywide emergency medical services — except in the city of Delaware and Liberty Township — while the fire departments of several towns and townships offer those services for their jurisdictions.
The city of Delaware and Liberty, Orange, Genoa and Harlem townships presented their cases to eliminate duplication of services.
However, the chief of the county agency defended the current system.
“Our stance is we do one thing and we do it well,” said Chief Mike Schuiling, director of the Delaware County EMS, after the work session. “We only focus solely on EMS. The worst place to be is having a heart attack when there is structure fire taking place. We solely do medicine.”
“What we are essentially proposing is that the county would contract with our communities and let our communities be the sole first-responders for EMS in our communities,” Genoa Township Trustee Rick Carfagna said. “Then those resources in our communities could be relocated elsewhere in the county that are underserved. In lieu of using those resources, the townships would receive a reimbursement.”
Schuiling gave a PowerPoint presenting the advantages of the county’s EMS service.
Delaware County EMS is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services and has in-house certified teachers to train paramedics and the ability to extend training to all of Ohio, he said. Training outside of the department has brought $20,000 back into the general fund, he said.
Each ambulance is staffed with three paramedics at all times, he said, and the county doesn’t bill patients for the services because the cost is covered by a sales tax.
Jeff Wilson, chief for the Berkshire, Sunbury, Trenton and Galena fire district, said: “We continue to look at this situation every year for the past 25 years. From my standpoint as a firefighter, we’ve been very fortunate in the model we do utilize, using Delaware County as our transport providers.”
“The county runs three paramedics on their trucks,” said Charles Miley, Brown Township trustee. “The townships, as I understand it, run two. If you’re in the back of squad with a life-threatening injury, how many people would you want back there working on you? One or two? Especially if you had to do CPR. That’s hard to do (as) one person.”
“I don’t think their residents even know that they are running two on their squad and the county is running three,” Miley said.
Commissioners proposed collecting data and creating models to determine the best outcome on the issue, and then have another work session once that work is done.
“We still have some more homework to do on this,” Commissioner Barb Lewis said, “that we keep our excellent EMS services strong … I do see this proposal enabling us to do this.”
After the work session, Dale Fling, Harlem Township fire chief, said: “We’re looking to visit the funding mechanism of EMS. This proposal was put together by us and our elected officials to present to the county to review any possibilities to upgrading and/or updating the system.”
“We just feel there is a disparity in the funding mechanism,” Fling added.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.