2013-06-01 / Front Page

Few turnout for EMS meeting

By Charles Prince

BUCKEYE LAKE – Patients 1st suppor ters demonstrating outside the fire station outnumbered residents who weren’t village officials nor linked to the fire department at last Thursday night’s public meeting on the Buckeye Lake Fire Department.

Buckeye Lake Village Council member and Safety Committee chair Clay Carroll led the multi-media presentation, starting with a little history. Carroll said the department only used paid part-timers during the day until 2009. He credited the department’s leadership with moving to provide aroundthe clock coverage. Carroll said “occasionally” a shift couldn’t be filled but that wasn’t important because, “It was still so much better than it was prior to this change.”

He also explained mutual aid. Three calls trigger automatic mutual aid, Carroll said. They are: a structural fire, non-responsive patients and nonbreathing patients. Departments have cooperated with each other for years, he added. It’s not unusual for a member of another department to ride in or drive another department’s vehicle, Carroll said. Noting that it takes two EMT’s to transport a patient, he said, “It’s common to pickup a paramedic on the way to the hospital.” He also claimed that mutual aid to Buckeye Lake is “not one-sided.”

He also resurrected the debunked myth that Buckeye Lake’s paid staffing problems arose about a year ago when five people left in a “very short time.” Carroll was echoing Fire Chief Pete Leindecker’s excuse last summer after the no-response tragedy on Dockside Drive. A Beacon examination of timecards last September showed only one part-timer, who worked a total of two shifts in March and April 2012, wasn’t working in August. Leindecker’s claim that three people left since May 2012 was pure fiction.

Carroll said the department “was a little slow to respond” to the claimed loss of staff.

Without acknowledging The Beacon reports, he said a lot of discussions started, specifically mentioning the outside review committee that Mayor Rick Baker appointed in September. Carroll said the committee made some recommendations, failing to mention that its key recommendation to dispatch mutual in three minutes was ignored.

“There was a little lackadaisical attitude,” Carroll acknowledged. His focus than turned to changes made. Seven new part-timers have been hired. Fire Captain Dave Ruton said the department now has 31 people, consisting of 18 EMT-Basics (five new), three intermediate EMT’s (one new) and eight paramedics (one new).

Carroll said scheduling starts with a blank calendar for the part-timers to sign up when they are available to work. A draft schedule is recirculated to fill any remaining open slots. “Generally the schedule is filled,” he claimed. “Lots of things happen,” Carroll added. “I’m not naïve.” He explained unfilled shifts by saying “everybody figured somebody else was handling it.”

Carroll expects a new paging system purchased about a month to be a big help in filling open shifts. The new system allows text messages to be immediately sent to all staff, notifying them that a shift is open.

Carroll asked Leindecker to explain a new policy on non-resident volunteers. They are current cardholders who don’t live close enough to respond to calls, but who want to retain their certification which requires continuing education. These volunteers can get the required training at the department’s Tuesday night training sessions and in return come and spend a night at the station. That provides two people on station, Leindecker said. The program just got “rolling” in the last 30 days he said.

“We’re not centuries behind other departments,” Carroll said after Leindecker’s presentation. After stating that “the best service would be provided from a local station,” Carroll said discussions have been initiated with other departments and EMS providers. This time he didn’t specify the departments. Carroll’s previous claims of waiting for a proposal from Millersport was proven false after the village’s mayor, fire chief and mayor’s assistant told The Beacon on May 14 that none of them had contacted about a possible contract for fire/EMS services.

A fire district, Carroll said, is “probably more down the road.”

A proposal from a private firm offered transportation to medical appointments, but no pricing.

Carroll did spend some time outlining the four options Hebron presented to village officials six weeks ago. He earlier had praised Hebron stating, “Hebron is very close to us. They have a great department.” Now he switched gears, subtlety and not so subtlety raising questions about its ability to provide quality service to Buckeye Lake. “I don’t mean to slander Hebron, but if they don’t come up with $200,000 they are going to lay off people,” Carroll claimed.

He added that it would take months to reach an agreement with Hebron. Carroll said it was emphasized that the Hebron proposals were just a “starting point,” trying to imply that the annual rates starting at $110,750 would increase.

“At least here we have some say so,” he said. “If we just write a check to someone they can do whatever they want,” Carroll added.

Carroll referred to a “they” that he said wanted to slander everyone. “We are getting some input but it is slow to come,” he said. “We are still waiting on more contrary to what you may hear.” He didn’t mention Millersport this time.

Carroll promised more meetings, likely on the third Thursday.

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