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Mich. county reaches critical ambulance status daily

Genesee County is exploring alternatives to help with ambulance shortages to better serve community


Photo/Genesee County Fire & EMS Calls

By Jessie Forand

GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. — There were 21 days in seven months’ time in which no ambulances were available to respond to calls in Genesse County, Mich., ABC 12 reported.

When there are five or fewer ambulances at the ready, the county considers it “critical status,” meaning the county’s 911 center must call in outside ambulances or redirect units en route to another call. This occurs daily, sometimes several times a day in Genesse County.

Now, the communities in the county are trying to find a solution.

ABC 12 reported that while the county’s ambulances currently work under the County Medical Control Authority, talks are likely with Medstar Ambulance to contract services, which now serves seven other counties.

“We’re only bringing to Genesee County what is in place in just about everywhere else. And in those areas where it exists, it exists very effectively,” Medstar CEO Kolby Miller said.

Miller’s company is available to the rest of the county, even with individual communities’ partnerships, and has just bought 10 new ambulances to provide service.

Added to the need for ambulance units, paramedics are vital to provide service; from 2016 to 2019, the volume of paramedic graduates decreased from 1,200 per year to 250, according to the Michigan Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness. The agency found that low starting pay rates were among the reasons that fewer people are joining the profession. New EMTs in Michigan made $16 an hour to start.