Cross: Fire Department cannot downgrade EMS licensing level without notifying state

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW — Resident Jerry Cross contended at the Oct. 17 City Council meeting that city officials were wrong Oct. 10 when they said EMS could downgrade its service for up to 24 hours without notifying the state.

Cross said after reviewing video of the Oct. 10 City Council meeting, he found inconsistencies with what city officials said is allowed for temporary EMS downgrades and what is required by state law.

Cross said his comments were not motivated by the local fire department collective bargaining negotiations with the city, but by his 18 years as a firefighter, eight of which were spent in Riverview.

Cross said Chief Cliff Rosebohm said the city was allowed to downgrade their EMS service for a maximum of 24 hours without notifying the state.

However, in an email from Laurie Lynn, Life Support Agency and Vehicle Licensing, Division of EMS and Trauma, Bureau of EMS and Trauma Preparedness, State of Michigan, she said Bob Miljan, who is in charge of Wayne County EMS, said an agency is required to provide the level of care they are licensed to provide on a 24/7 basis.

Miljan said in an email to Lynn that Riverview cannot downgrade its EMS service level for any reason, staffing or otherwise, per the state. Furthermore, downgrading its service on a recurring basis would violate the city’s licensing requirements.

Lynn said Riverview was not allowed to downgrade its EMS service due to manpower issues. When it does, she said it must notify the state.

Mayor Andrew Swift said that if Cross is saying the city is violating its state licensing agreement, the city will address it.

Rosebohm said when the city did have to downgrade its ambulance EMS service during a past weekend due to staffing issues, and had to use a private ambulance for support, it informed all parties as required — including dispatch and Miljan — that Riverview could not provide its licensed level of EMS service.

Rosebohm said he also met a week ago with the local area Health Emergency Medical Service coordinator.

“He is aware of our staffing issues, he understands what we have to deal with, and he’s made a few recommendations,” Rosebohm said, “which I will be glad to present to the council at the appropriate time, so we can make an informed decision for our fire department and EMS department.”

Rosebohm said the city made the proper notifications when EMS was short staffed.

Swift said when EMS knows in advance that an ambulance request is for Advanced Life Support services they will get it; if not, it will be Basic Life Support.

Rosebohm said on the weekend in question when the city was short-staffed, 75 percent of the runs were handled by ALS, and 25 percent by BLS.
Swift said the city will provide ambulance support.

“The preference, obviously, is ALS, and Riverview guys,” Swift said. “That’s what we all want. But if we can’t, as opposed to not sending an ambulance, we will contract with somebody to provide a (BLS) ambulance.”

Swift told Cross he would not impune the integrity of Rosebohm, whom he said has been an outstanding employee for more than 25 years.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at