Firefighters/paramedics Mike Street, left, and Stefan Tiell are an ambulance team out of Firehouse No. 1 in Sylvania. Private ambulances were unavailable for 5.7 percent of the township’s calls.
Sylvania Township officials say it is the only entity in Lucas County that does not provide basic life support transport, or an ambulance transport to the hospital in a non-emergency situation. Reliance on private vendors for the service is getting a new look as wait times are creeping up, officials said.
As part of their department review before it places a levy on the ballot, officials have provided figures on wait times for private transports to respond to non-life-threatening incidents. They are seeking public input on department operations and services, and what future services it should provide.
Year-to-date response times by private ambulance providers exceeded 20 minutes in 105 of the 562 times they responded to an injury. Nine incidents took more than 30 minutes, and several took longer than that.
About 78 percent of department incidents are medical related. Fire Chief Jeff Kowalski noted that firefighters do stay with the patient until the ambulance arrives. More than 30 times the department had to rely on a nearby fire department to bring the patient to the hospital.
Ambulance companies that provide transport for township residents include ProMedica, FirstCare, and Kish. The department’s report noted that from January, 2013, to April, 2014, private ambulances were unavailable for 5.7 percent of the calls. The township is not involved in the billing for private care.
Of the department’s 56 firefighters in the line of duty, 55 are paramedics, Chief Kowalski said. The paramedics staff one of 10 advanced life support transport services that serve Lucas County. That service is for life-threatening situations, such as a heart attack. This year it was given $722,000 to provide the service within and beyond the Sylvania City and Sylvania Township boundary lines.
Chief Kowalski said the department was formerly one of the only entities in the county with a basic transport service. The basic life-transport was in service from mid-2004 to 2006. It had a 72 percent bill-collection rate, he said, adding anything above 60 percent is good.
“The biggest benefit of basic life-support transport is continual care. If we take our patient to the hospital and the situation turns life threatening, for example a person with a head injury suddenly stops breathing, we have all the equipment to handle that en route to the hospital,” he said.
Fiscal Officer Dave Simko, who was in the position when the transport was eliminated, said it was heading toward break even, which was the goal. He noted there was a lag in time, up to six months, between billing and collection. He said the decision to eliminate the service was made by a majority vote of former trustees.