HARTFORD — Unhappiness with Medic 1 lingers in Hartford and Hartford Township, and officials with the three entities vow to do better.
City and township officials hosted a joint meeting Wednesday night to discuss how to improve the ambulance services for its citizens.
Township Supervisor Ron Sefcik said he was concerned some of the costs for service are not being accurate, while City Commissioner Rick Hall said he was concerned about alleged slow response times, and that city residents are not getting what they’re paying for.
Officials with the two governments said they were concerned about Covert Township Rescue covering for Medic 1 when its ambulances are dispatched out of the area.
Medic 1 Operations Manager Bob Hale told the gathering some of the coverage problems are generated by a mix of Van Buren County and Berrien County dispatchers.
“Berrien County Medical Control Authority has a requirement for response times. Van Buren County has no requirement,” Hale said. “If you call 911 in Van Buren County, and an ambulance ever shows up at that address, they have met their response time. So they’re slower to relocate because they don’t have a response time requirement.”
Pete Sinclair, chairman of Medic 1’s Board of Directors, said they would look into the alleged inaccurate costs. Sinclair and Hale said they’ve been working to get the Township Board and City Commission the information they want.
Hartford Township Trustee John McLellan said officials should form a committee to set performance criteria, including response times, equipment and training.
Sefcik said the committee would encourage Medic 1 to be transparent on budgets and salaries, too.
“I think we’re all in agreement that we want to serve the residents of our community as best as possible. No questions about it. And possibly this committee could establish those parameters,” Sefcik said. “It might take a meeting. It might take two meetings, but they can establish the parameters of what’s considered a good service.”
Hartford Mayor Theodore Johnson said the only indicator now is feedback from the public and the fire department.
“We’ve mentioned Pride Care (ambulance service). They’ve made informal proposals about things they would do that Medic 1 won’t do,” he said. “We have to look at the overall benefit to the general public.”
The mention of Pride Care opened the floor to discussion about whether the communities should work with Medic 1 to fix its problems or consider options.
Sefcik said the committee should help officials decide what is best.
Johnson disagreed. He said a decision to keep Medic 1 or examine Pride Care needs to happen soon.
“We’re spinning our wheels and wasting our time when we’ve gotten nowhere with the meetings we’ve had,” he said. “It’s dragging on, and I think we need to move ahead.”
The meeting was adjourned after Sefcik said this could be discussed at each elected panel’s next meeting.
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