Archbold, OH

What Is The Future Of Fulton County EMS?

A discussion of the state of emergency medical service in Fulton County, including Archbold’s use of on-call emergency medical technicians, is being considered for April.

Originally, a meeting to discuss the county EMS system had been scheduled for March. Perry Rupp, Fulton County commissioner, said he got behind and the meeting was delayed. Background

In late 2011, news broke that there were problems in negotiating a contract between Fulton County Commissioners, the Village of Archbold, and the Archbold Fire Department over a contract for emergency medical services.

Archbold Fire Department operates ALS-1, or Advanced Life Support 1, a rescue unit that responds to rescue calls in Archbold and Fayette with a paramedic, a specially-trained technician with advanced life support skills.

For decades, the county has funded the operation of rescue squads.

In 2000, voters approved a property tax levy to upgrade the county EMS system to include paramedics and provide funding for additional manpower for three smaller fire departments.

The rift came because the commissioners were concerned about ALS-1 response times to rescue calls between 5 pm and 8 am.

The three other departments that host ALS units– Wauseon (ALS-8), Delta (ALS-2), and Swanton (ALS-7)– require that the ALS team of one paramedic and one emergency medical technician sleep overnight at the fire station.

Archbold opted for a different system.

The paramedic remains on station, but the EMT is allowed to stay at home, responding only if there is a call.

The commissioners pointed to statistics that showed ALS-1 often had longer response times in the evening and overnight hours.

“Response time” starts when Fulton County Sheriff Department dispatchers call a unit, and ends when a unit reports they are on their way.

Village officials criticized statistics as “garbled” and inaccurate.

Their own studies showed ALS-1 did lag behind other units by about 30 to 60 seconds.

Village officials said they believed ALS-1 was providing high-quality service with appropriate response times.

Eventually a contract agreement was reached, along with the proposed examination of the countywide EMS system. 2000 Committee

During the commissioners’ Monday, March 26 meeting, they again discussed the group that would be tasked with reviewing the EMS system.

Based on meeting minutes, Paul Barnaby, commissioner, called for appointing representatives from the same seven groups that were represented on the Fulton County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Group.

The advisory group was formed in 2000 to establish the ALS system.

The group included an at-large member, two representatives of the county Fireman’s Association, the Fulton County medical director, a representa- tive of the communities, a representative from the Fulton County Health Center, and a representative of the county township association.

The commissioners discussed, but made no decision on, adding a representative of the county association of village mayors.

Rupp suggested there be one representative from the four southern departments (Archbold, Wauseon, Delta, Swanton), and one from the northern departments (Fayette, Lyons, Metamora).

The minutes state Rod Cheney, Fulton County Emergency Medical Services director, questioned whether representatives would be able to look at the EMS system and give unbiased recommendations.

The minutes say Vond Hall, Fulton County administrator, disagreed, noting people involved in the EMS system need to be in the meeting, as they know the system best.

Rupp was paraphrased in the meeting minutes saying the meeting needs to take place in an environment where everyone can speak freely.

Dean Genter, commissioner, said in the minutes every fire station has a different profile, and the committee needs to take a look at each station individually to see what works for them to address manpower issues, response times, and if the system needs all of the funds that are available to operate. Facilitator

Rupp’s original idea for a discussion of the EMS system involved a one-day, all-day meeting with a paid facilitator to go over and hash out issues.

The commissioners did not make a decision on the paid facilitator question on Monday.

Rupp suggested that the commissioners, Cheney, and the county EMS board, develop a list of topics for the proposed advisory group.

The commissioners will discuss the issue again Monday, April 2.–David Pugh

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