Firefighters tell council mutual aid increase could hurt city response time

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Firefighters Local 356 told the City Council that neighboring cities relying on private EMS could leave Wyandotte vulnerable when its EMS leaves the city to provide mutual aid.

In a letter received by the council Oct. 18 and read into the record at the Oct. 24 meeting, firefighters expressed concern that mutual aid commitments to other cities, which are relying on Wyandotte’s EMS personnel more heavily than in the past, could potentially leave the city at risk of not having high-level responders available for residents.

The city has participated in the Downriver Mutual Aid Agreement since 1967, and it is the oldest shared service agreement in Michigan. Recent shifts in neighboring cities’ dependence has caused concern.

“There is an impedance to the level of service that we are providing,” the letter read. “There has been an increasing trend of Wyandotte manpower being utilized by neighboring communities for ambulance service which we believe is not in the spirit of the DMA agreement.”

Southgate and Lincoln Park have created the increased demand, the firefighters said, and the issue has been discussed at police and fire commission meetings.

The letter notes that the increase in the volume of emergency medical calls from neighboring communities leaves Wyandotte at times reliant on other cities for ambulance backup.

The privatized EMS service providers that neighboring cities rely upon sometimes do not have a responding unit available, or wait time might be lengthy, and the responding unit may not be capable of supplying advanced life support.

They noted that Riverview was Wyandotte’s EMS backup in the past, but lately the Riverview department, which employs part-time firefighters, has been unable to consistently staff both of its high-level ambulances. They are also poised to become increasingly dependent on Wyandotte EMS for high level rapid life-support response.

The firefighters said there is a trend elsewhere to deny contractual high-level mutual aid to cities reliant on privatized basic level EMS.

“Perhaps the time has come to look at the possibility of denying our surrounding communities who use privatized EMS and in turn are unable to provide a comparable level of services for our citizens,” the letter concluded.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)

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