Ohio region considering 3 ambulance proposals

At a city council meeting, municipality leaders raised concerns about increasing the price per person for EMS services


Nancy Molnar
The Times-Reporter, New Philadelphia, Ohio

UHRICHSVILLE, Ohio — Elected officials from the Twin Cities area have heard a third offer to provide ambulance service.

At a meeting Monday in Uhrichsville City Council's chamber, they heard Sherrodsville-based Regional EMS propose stationing ambulances in the region for $18 per person.

A proposal by the Uhrichsville Fire Department is among the three ambulance proposals being considered by community leaders in the Twin Cities area. (Photo/Uhrichsville Firefighters IAFF Local 4265)
A proposal by the Uhrichsville Fire Department is among the three ambulance proposals being considered by community leaders in the Twin Cities area. (Photo/Uhrichsville Firefighters IAFF Local 4265)

Members also set a meeting for Jan. 13 to decide what to do after an existing contract with Smith Ambulance expires at the end of January.

At issue is whether local governments will pay to keep one or more emergency medical squads at the ready in Uhrichsville, Mill, Union, Warwick and Rush townships, and the villages of Dennison and Tuscarawas.

Previously, Smith Ambulance proposed charging $17 per person to assign a squad full-time to the Twin Cities area after its current contract, at $14 a person, expires Jan. 31. The offer depends on the city joining Mill, Union, Warwick and Rush townships, and the villages of Tuscarawas and Dennison, in keeping the Dover-based company as its primary emergency medical service.

The Uhrichsville Fire Department proposed providing fire and emergency medical services to other communities in the region for $22 per resident per year. The cost would be $24 per person in Uhrichsville, based on the amount raised by a property tax levy for the purpose.

Sherrodsville-based Regional EMS Executive Director Joel Decker offered to put two ambulance crews on duty in the Twin Cities region during peak times. and a single crew during times that are less busy. When those units are in service, a backup crew would come from Carroll County to handle an additional run.

The nonprofit Regional EMS, overseen by a governing board, ran its first call in June.

Officials from outside Uhrichsville were not eager to pay more.

Warwick Township can't afford $22 a person to keep ambulances on standby, said Trustee Bryan Lehigh.

Uhrichsville Councilman Eric Harmon said Union Township averages four EMS calls a month, and Mill Township, nine.

Union Township Trustee Joe Martinelli said his community would have to choose the least expensive option.

Dennsion Councilwoman Helen Borland compared the situation to a person who wants steak, but can only afford hamburger.

Dennison Councilman Greg DiDonato said the higher compensation paid to Uhrichsville firefighter/paramedics will make the city's service more expensive than Smith's.

Elected officials from several communities said they received citizen complaints about streets and blighted properties, not emergency medical service.

"We don't have a crisis with the ambulance service," DiDonato said. He said the village has 12 to 14 EMS calls monthly.

Uhrichsville Councilman Bill Grandison said there may be no complaints because Uhrichsville medics have been responding when Smith is unavailable.

"You're talking peoples' lives; it's going to be expensive," said outgoing Mayor Rick Dorland. "We can't keep going for nothing."

Council President Mark Haney, who did not attend Monday's meeting, will replace Dorland as mayor Jan. 1.

Uhrichsville Fire Department has two ambulances that could continue to serve the city if the Smith Ambulance contract is not renewed,

Uhrichsville Fire Chief Justin Edwards said Tuesday that any decision about whether his department will respond to EMS calls outside the city without contracts will be up to council and the mayor.

At present, the city does not receive a subsidy from outlying areas that receive service from Uhrichsville paramedics, although patients and their insurance providers are billed.

"Not all parties are paying fairly," Edwards said.

The ambulance committee is scheduled to meet again at 6 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Uhrichsville City Council chamber, 305 E. Second St.

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©2019 The Times-Reporter, New Philadelphia, Ohio

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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