My niece and her 6-month-old baby, who has seizures, visited us three weeks ago for a family reunion. I researched our local EMS in preparation for their visit, worried that the baby might have a seizure during the visit. I was told that any service we required would come from Marengo, which is quite close to us. Unfortunately, early in the visit the baby did have a seizure and stopped breathing. We called 911, and the EMS from Marengo arrived very quickly and took excellent care of the baby. The supervisor who is certified to perform procedures to re-start breathing was a part of the crew. The baby was taken to Children’s Hospital in Columbus where he was monitored, and by the end of the day, he was back home safely with us. Our local EMS was efficient and professional, and we could not have had better service anywhere.
This positive experience with our EMS makes what I read in “The Sentinel” this week about changing our local EMS to a private one, MedFlight, very confusing. I did not attend the August 11th Commissioners meeting, but if the paper’s account is correct, citizens in attendance had serious questions and concerns which were not answered. I got the impression that the citizens felt there is no problem with the quality of our local service but a definite problem with how the decision on MedFlight was reached - in executive session instead of an open meeting. If citizens are going to be asked to vote on new funds for this seemingly unnecessary change in EMS, their questions on such an important decision should be heard. According to quotations in the article, people who did exercise their right to question were criticized, instead of being respectfully answered.
In addition, I learned that 25% of the current EMS employees will lose their jobs, and others may have their salaries cut. We will be hiring a private company, which must and will make a profit, to replace a service that we are already satisfied with and receive on a non-profit basis. I do not want to see fellow citizens, who seem to be doing good work locally, to lose their jobs to a private company that is not local.
Citizens will be asked to approve a .5 levy increase, which I have been told will pay for the building of new EMS stations, which will be located in the county on the basis of local communities’ tax bases. So, in the future, will poorer communites be further away from an EMS station? Are there problems with the current location of our EMS vehicles in local fire stations?
Commissioners must realize that citizens have serious questions that need to be answered in order to make well informed decisions on an EMS tax levy. An article in the local paper written by the commissioners answering these and other specific questions would be helpful to concerned citizens. General statements about moving forward and making things better are not enough. It would also be helpful if people working in our current EMS would write and speak to the disadvantages of this change.
Diane Farahay, Peru Township