The Harris Township trustees plan to have sufficient personnel hired by early April to provide 24-hour emergency medical service in the township and Village of Elmore.
Carol Baker, a township trustee, said last week the board of trustees has hired more part-time emergency medical workers to ease the burden on a pool of volunteers whose ranks have been dropping.
Voters in the village and township last November approved a 4.5-mill, 5-year property tax levy to fund additional emergency medical service. Annually, the levy is expected to generate $289,500, according to figures compiled by the Ottawa County auditor’s office.
“We have hired more part-time staff and are currently working with an architect to make renovations in the (fire station) building to provide sleeping quarters and a bathroom,” Baker said. “We’re doing some staggering of times, One paramedic comes in and works from 6 to 6 and another one comes in and goes 8 to 8 and then we’re filling in with volunteers. But we’re not at 24/7 yet. At least we’ve been able to hire more people and get them on board with our procedures. That’s been good. “
During the levy campaign, the trustees said volunteers have provided service since 1975 but family and job obligations as well as increased training requirements forced many volunteers to quit. There were 15 volunteers in 2008 but only eight last year on the fire department’s roster.
Since 2007 the township had hired part-time emergency medial technicians to be at the station from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and relied on volunteers for service during the evenings and weekends.
Service calls rose from 299 in 2011 to 326 in 2012.
The township spent about $129,000 in 2012 for the service - $73,912 on salaries and benefits and $54,394 on equipments, supplies, insurance, fuel and maintenance cost. To meet those expenses, the township had relied on insurance billings and a mutual aid contract that generated about $100,000 in fees and other tax revenues.
Baker has visited the living quarters for emergency medical personnel at the fire stations of the Lake Township Fire Department and the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District for input on how the Harris-Elmore station can be renovated for round-the-clock service.
The trustees have retained a Port Clinton architect, Ken Schoenfeld, to prepare a design plan for the quarters.