Commissioners take first step to improve EMS coverage
REED CITY — A committee is expected to form soon in order to research and establish a permanent emergency medical service station to extend coverage for the townships of Burdell, Sherman, Rose Lake and LeRoy.
During the July 16 Osceola County Commissioners meeting, commissioner Tammy Stoner added a discussion about the county’s northwest quadrant EMS coverage to the agenda. The topic stems from a July 2 commission vote to build a permanent EMS station in Marion, which passed 4-3 following weeks of discussion, opposition and tension between commissioners and residents in the northwest quadrant of the county.
Stoner said there needs to be an emergency system in the area, now that the Marion location has been decided. To help increase services, she proposed establishing a committee to create a permanent EMS station project in the quadrant for up to $350,000, which would come from the EMS fund.
“Let’s move forward, even if it’s baby steps,” Stoner said.
She volunteered for the position of chairperson and said options for a fourth base in the county need to be reviewed. If it is possible, the people of the county would vote on a millage to support or reject the project. Fellow commissioners supported Stoner’s proposal.
In other business, commissioners heard from Mark Hammar, the supervisor of Clare County’s Winterfield Township, regarding the expiring Osceola County EMS contract. Due to the location of Winterfield township and the natural barrier of the Muskegon River, the closest Clare County EMS service would have to travel at least 20 miles to reach residents.
He asked commissioners to renew the contract to provide the township with an average of 20 runs per year for $17,000, but commissioners believe it is not enough and want the township to pay as much as Osceola County townships pay for EMS service, especially since Winterfield Township is located outside of the county and does not pay taxes. Currently, per resident fees vary throughout each township, Reed City and Evart. Reed City is at the lowest end of the spectrum, with a cost of $19.14 per resident and Cedar Township is at the highest end, with a cost of $48.58 per resident in 2012. The average fee per resident is $30.76.
A motion to accept Hammar’s offer was not made, forcing him to consult with his township board members once more.
In other news, commissioners approved a motion to allow a re-bidding process to take place for a 1999 ambulance the county would like to sell. Osceola County EMS Director Jeremy Beebe said he received a bid of $750 for the vehicle, when the minimum bid was $2,000. Because of the low bid and the bid timeline falling on the July 4 weekend, he recommended to reject the bid and put the ambulance out for bids yet again.
The next meeting of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 6 in the Osceola County building, located at 301 W. Upton Ave. in Reed City.