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911 to call or not to call

I like most persons in this county presumed that when you call 911 for a medical emergency help would be sent forthwith. Unfortunately that is not always the case here is our pleasant part of the world. I found this out through some research after the loss of my brother in law.

He called 911, which got him to Clare Central Dispatch, who you would think dispatches the ambulance…they do not. They take preliminary information then transfer the call Medical Dispatch who then determines the unit to respond.  It is not always the closest unit. In his case we were told that was Farwell. And the unit got lost on the way or was delayed, because it took almost 30 minutes to travel 16 miles..you do the math (a little over an average of 30mph).

With only a little digging and some time I have found 12-13 cases where service was not what one would expect. Over 35 minutes to respond to a pregnant lady having a seizure, within the CITY LIMITS OF CLARE.  A case where an ambulance was never dispatched.  Seems like they all happen with one particular service too.

I have found a case where the ambulance was sent from Mt. Pleasant while a competing unit was available in Lake George. The records from the Surrey Township Fire department states they called 911 and asked about using the other unit but received no answer. The records from the ambulance company themselves stated “…they were delayed due to distance”. In this case the gentleman died. Now maybe the earlier arrival of an EMS unit would not have saved his life, but that is not the issue.

The issue is we have a fight going on between ambulance services and we have a Board of Commissioners who are failing to step in. Perhaps it could be because there is one commissioner who sits on the board and on the ambulance subcommittee (a committee that is listed in board minutes as inactive) who is related to a high ranking person at one of the companies. In any case they need to do something besides bicker about job titles, and what committee assignments are reimbursable or not.

As reported in the Review…

” Gelios also said that he attended a 911 Authority Board meeting, during which a lawyer discussed the County’s liability regarding the dispatching of ambulances.  “The way I understood it is we have to receive documents from the ambulance service and also from each township and the city [of Harrison] that we haven’t received.  We’re still in the mode of the closest one [ambulance will be dispatched] and that’s it,” Gelios reported.  Gelios noted that the Public Health Code states that, if there is a dispute over ambulance coverage, the County is responsible to have a 911/Central Dispatch policy in place, because, as David said, “the County has the ultimate responsibility of outcome once we dispatch an ambulance.””

I think it is time to start holding peoples feet to the fire….as for me if any family member needs help I am not waiting around for an ambulance. I am going to transport them myself…to Midland!

Concerned and confused…

John Reppert

Clare county resident