Buckeye Lake Village officials ran out of excuses for their dysfunctional EMS operation at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 12. That’s when the one-hour Hebron Safety Committee meeting adjourned. Mayor Rick Baker and council members Clay Carroll and Arletta Ruton were present, along with 12 or so Buckeye Lake residents.
Hebron Mayor Clifford L. Mason and Village Administrator Ralph Wise presented three EMS/fire contract options for Buckeye Lake’s consideration. Two of the three can be done with Buckeye Lake’s current resources – no tax increase required.
Option 3 is the least expensive and the easiest to quickly implement. It is the obvious starting point to provide Patients 1st service to residents AND visitors by the Memorial Day Weekend start of Buckeye Lake’s summer season. By that time it will have been nine and a half months since we first documented the department’s management and operational failures.
Hebron’s No. 3 proposal would add one additional part-time firefighter/EMT 24/7/365 to its on-station staff. Buckeye Lake would pay the additional cost of $110,750 a year. Hebron would hire, equip and manage the additional part-time employees necessary to fill the new slot 24/7/365. Hebron would then be immediately dispatched for any EMS/fire calls from Buckeye Lake Village. No more six to eight minute waits for mutual aid to be dispatched if Buckeye Lake fails to response at all nor the typical 12 – ? minute delays before a one-person Buckeye Lake crew asks for mutual aid. Finally we will have – you call, they roll!
The other two options involve Hebron stationing two EMT’s in the Buckeye Lake Fire Station. While that might cut response time a minute or two, both are more costly and would take more time to work out as some legal issues like Hebron employees using Buckeye Lake equipment and how workers compensation would work have to be addressed. Option 2 could turn out to be the next step.
Our critical need is to have Patients 1st care in time for the annual onset of summer residents and visitors. Village officials have an obligation to provide Patients 1st EMS services ASAP to village residents and visitors. Continued failure to act will expose the village to significant financial liability should another no or delayed response result in serious injury or death. Village officials have now been warned repeatedly in a very public forum for more than eight months.
Baker thanked Hebron officials for the proposals. Carroll could only muster, “We’re still gathering/sorting.” A scowling Arletta Ruton didn’t speak, but had urged Mason privately to cancel the meeting a few minutes before it started.
There’s nothing for Carroll, his Safety Committee, or council members to be ‘gathering/sorting.’ There have been hints for months that Buckeye Lake would seek proposals from Millersport and a private company such as Courtesy Ambulance. There has been no contact with Millersport and it is several miles further away than Hebron. A contract with a for-profit company like Courtesy doesn’t make financial sense.
Cost is no longer an obstacle. Hebron’s Option 3 is less than what Buckeye Lake is currently paying for its dysfunctional operation. The additional couple of miles to respond from Hebron was never a legitimate issue. While it may take Hebron a couple of minutes longer to respond than Buckeye Lake on a rare good day, patients can be assured that the Hebron squad won’t have to wait at the station for crew members to arrive. And when the Hebron medic arrives, the crew will be IMMEDIATELY able to treat and transport. No more long on-scene waits to see if a Buckeye Lake volunteer decides to respond.
The last refuge for the control and priders is the ever changing public meeting sometime in May. This is just another delaying tactic, not a honest effort to hear your opinions. We already had the best possible public forum last November 6. In the privacy of the voting station – free from intimidation or fear of reprisals – a strong majority spoke loud and clear when they rejected a simple levy renewal. No-increase fire levies are almost always renewed; Buckeye Lake’s went down by almost 100 votes. Residents spoke loudly six months ago; they wanted real change and are still waiting for it.
SERVICE IS NOT GETTING BETTER! A ready to treat and transport crew is only supposed to be on station 10 hours a day. The other 14 hours a day rely on a volunteer responding to treat and transport. In January, there was no coverage for 53 hours/58 minutes, increasing to 64 hours/34 minutes in February and even more to 81 hours/36 minutes in March. There were similar increases in the length of time when the planned two-man crew was a person short. That’s getting worse, not better!
Any hope that council would make the right decision ran out months ago. Come to Monday night’s 7:30 p.m. council member to ask them individually to commit to Patients 1st. Real Patients 1st service could be in place in a matter of weeks!