Liberty debates EMS study

By D. Anthony Botkin - [email protected]

Liberty Township trustees began the debate of moving from a township Emergency Medical Service to a county-centered system during its Monday night meeting.

Trustee Melanie Leneghan started the discussion when she brought up the recent EMS study conducted by County Commissioner Jeff Benton.

Leneghan said she believes trustees should look at the numbers because the annual expense for the township alone is $5 million while the county plan proposes paying $17 million annually to cover the entire county. She also said she thought the numbers were a bit conservative.

“Because our township is in the midst of so many things,” Leneghan said. “I think we need to start discussing it and the possibility of moving forward and looking into it and seeing if that’s an opportunity for our community to save $5 million a year.”

Benton took the lead on collecting the numbers in April after a meeting with officials from city of Delaware and Liberty, Orange, Genoa and Harlem townships who presented their case to eliminate duplication of services and update the current funding system.

The commissioners’ study offers six possible scenarios which were released on the county’s website on Oct. 24.

The county offers countywide emergency medical services, except in the city of Delaware and Liberty Township. Several entities’ fire departments offer those services for their jurisdictions.

Trustee Shyra Eichhorn said it’s never been a secret that she hasn’t been an advocate for switching to county EMS. She wants to look at other options.

Eichhorn questions the savings verses the quality of services the community would receive.

“I think where we differ is … I don’t think it’s conservative, I question very much those numbers,” she said. “I’m not going to base my decision solely on that report. I think we really need to dive into that report and look at those numbers.”

“I feel people here want us to be fiscally conservative with a certain level of services they receive,” Eichhorn said. “We have to balance that.”

Eichhorn said she has had conversations with Benton about the numbers in the study. She said she asked how the county would acquire the buildings and equipment based on the numbers in the study.

“There is no way you can come out with a report like that, with those numbers, without starting to look at those figures,” she said. “I think there were many missing numbers in that chart.”

Benton told The Gazette Tuesday that, “We were very careful to gather the numbers from the departments. We had them checked by an independent source.”

Lenegan said she’s convinced, “their service is every bit as good if not better, because their trucks are manned three (people) twenty-four seven.”

Interim Fire Chief William Fields said he agreed they need to look at the county plan. However, he is not certain that will save the township a lot of money.

“We can’t put a dollar figure on your life,” he said.

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.