In what was called a historical moment by City of Delaware Fire Chief John Donahue, the Delaware County Pre-Hospital Care System Advisory Board of Directors met for the first time Thursday afternoon.
Members of the new board include Donahue, Delaware County Administrator Michael Frommer, Delaware County Emergency Medical Services Chief Michael Schuiling, Concord Township Fire Chief Todd Cooper, Genoa Township Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt, Harlem Township Fire Chief Dale Fling, Liberty Township Fire Chief Thomas O’Brien, Orange Township Fire Chief Matthew Noble, and Delaware County Emergency Communications (911) Director Patrick Brandt.
“We’re all here and nothing has been agreed upon,” Donahue said. “We are all equal partners working as one team.”
Based on the informal work of Donahue, Powell Police Chief Gary Vest, Schuiling, and O’Brien, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners approved the formation of the board Feb. 7 and appointed Frommer to head it.
The board is charged to govern the protocols and standards for all emergency medical services (EMS) within the county.
“I think it’s been long anticipated that this group would get together,” said Frommer.
Vest was asked to share a brief history of the board.
“I’ve been police chief in Powell for coming up on 23 years,” he said. “I’ve witnessed the good cooperation … Intuitively, I know that everybody already works well together.”
Vest pointed out, much like he did in his presentation to the commissioners in February, the county has changed since the 1970s when the .05 percent sales tax for an ambulance service was approved. He said if the current situation is not addressed, some politician outside of the group will tell them how to do their jobs.
Vest told them he got involved during the uproar over the Liberty Township Board of Trustees’ attempt to have the county take over its fire-based EMS. He said he went to a meeting, but since getting nowhere with the politicians, he went in a different direction.
“I called the people I knew that knows something about what’s going on,” he said. “I found that all of you were pretty much on the same page. If you focus on the care of the patient, I firmly believe that both systems we’re using are necessary and appropriate in this county.”
Frommer said he likes the way the county 911 board functions with the experts input, dialogue, and the camaraderie and wanted to lean in that direction as well with the new board. However, he said since the approval of the formation there hasn’t been much done because he wanted input on the structure of the board itself before moving forward.
“The worst thing we could do is have a structure that people are not bought into,” he said. “The likelihood of the committee gaining momentum and strength would be very minimal.”
Schuiling said at the end of the day, we all do the same jobs and we took the same oath to do the best we possibly can.
“Strikingly, what stands out is we don’t disagree on anything,” he said. “I’m very confident that this is going to work out and be very beneficial.”
Before the group adjourned, Commissioner Barb Lewis could be seen with both her thumbs up and smiling that the board is now underway, because she has been pushing for a similar board ever since she was a Genoa Township trustee.
The only action taken by the new board Thursday was figuring out future meeting dates.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.