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Letter from EMT gives sobering consequences of layoffs PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 12:00 AM

By NANCY SPENCER

Herald Editor

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DELPHOS — A large crowd waited through back-to-back executive sessions of Delphos City Council Monday evening.

Councilman Kevin Osting called the first executive session for the discussion of contracts and wages with council and Mayor Michael Gallmeier attending.

Safety Service Director Greg Berquist called the second for discussion of contract negotiations with council, Law Director Clayton Osting, Berquist and the mayor in attendance.

Once back in regular session, Council Clerk Marsha Mueller read correspondence from Diane Pack, a Delphos medic. It read:

 

Mr. Mayor, Mr. Berquist and city council members,

 

You have stated that the Delphos EMS would not be affected by the layoffs of the fire department. I would like to take this opportunity to explain to you how incorrect this statement is and how devastating these layoffs of our firemen will indeed be to the Delphos EMS.

With only one fireman on duty instead of two, there is the possibility that we will have no first responder. This means that when a citizen has a heart attack, instead of our firemen arriving on scene in three to five minutes, the citizen will instead wait between 15-20 minutes for the arrival of an ambulance. After six minutes of no oxygen to the brain, this citizen will either be deceased or left with permanent and irreversible brain damage. This, of course, is just one example.

Our firemen are on the scene of an EMS call 12-15 minutes before the ambulance arrives. They have the scene safe for us to enter, secured and under control. They have any bleeding controlled, oxygen on the patient and vital signs obtained. When necessary, they have CPR started as well. They are able to radio to the ambulance crew and let us know what equipment to bring in or have set up and ready upon our arrival. This is called the tier system and has been proven to be the most effective in saving lives and providing the highest-quality patient care. Given the number of elderly residents in Delphos, in addition to all our children, one would think that keeping our fire and EMS as it is now, effectively saving lives, would be a priority.

By reducing the number of our firemen, the potential for our citizens to die while waiting on the arrival of an ambulance is greatly increased. Imagine that citizen is you, or a loved one. Would you rather wait three minutes or 15 minutes for emergency medical services?

At times, in severe cases, the ambulance crew needs another set of hands. If we are short -staffed or if there is no advanced EMT or paramedic in the ambulance, the firefighter will go on the squad run with the EMS crew. With no first response, we may not be able to staff an ambulance in all situations.

The layoffs at the fire department will cost us our only two firefighter/paramedics. This leaves the city with only three paramedics on the EMS side and zero on the fire side. One of our medics is only able to work midnight to 6 a.m. five days a week and limited hours throughout the day and evening on the weekends. Another only works from 6 p.m. to midnight a few nights a week. The third works a limited amount of shifts throughout the week. The citizen who has a cardiac-related emergency will be lucky to time his or her emergency properly so that one of these three medics will be available to administer cardiac medications. EMT basics and EMT advanced, our other two levels of EMS personnel, are not able to provide advanced cardiac are or administer these cardiac drugs.

EMS is the only department in the city that is not operating in the “red” financially. Mr. Berquist, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. What you are doing to the Delphos Fire and Rescue Department and to the citizens of Delphos is nothing short of WRONG.

Please consider looking at other areas to save money. We need our firemen!

Sincerely,

Delphos Fire and Rescue medic 48, Diane Pack

In other action, council granted Berquist permission to submit an application to participate in the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement Program for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.

Rules on the resolution were suspended and it was passed on emergency due to grant application deadlines.

The grant is an 80-20 match for $1,006,000. The city’s share is $792,000, which would be acquired for a zero-percent interest, 20-year loan.

The plan includes separating the common air header at the plant into five components so it performs more efficiently.

The grant application also includes the purchase of two sets of trains with upgraded membranes and an upgrade to the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), a system that collects data from various sensors at the treatment plant and sends data to a central computer that manages and controls the data.

“This project was originally proposed for us to receive in excess of $800,000 for the project in a grant and the OPWC picking up the $200,000,” Berquist said. “The funding is not there, so that is reason for the shift of the 80-20 in favor of the OPWC.”

Berquist is required to bring the grant information back before council before accepting the grant.

Councilman Josh Gillespie asked what happens if the upgrades are not done.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Todd Teman said the hydraulic pumps will eventually go down and the plant will be in violation of the EPA and findings and orders will be assessed.

Councilman Kevin Osting wanted to know if the upgrades will solve the problems at the plant.

“We are looking to replace the damaged membranes,” Teman explained. “We are making adjustments to the number of plates in each train and hoping to increase our hydraulic capacity and quality of air flow, which in turn will increase the life of the plates. Originally, the plant worked as the plans stated but the longevity was not there.”

Former Mayor John Sheeter spoke and expressed his opinion that the money was throwing good money after bad and the problem would still be there.

“This grant may or may not fix the problem and then you want to pass a tax that will go right down the toilet,” he said.

Council heard, amended and passed on third reading an ordinance concerning increasing EMS transportation rates.

The new rates, effective Oct. 1, for rescue service emergency transportation to a medical hospital will be:

• Emergency Basic Life Support (per person/per conveyance) — $500;

• Emergency Advanced Life Support 1 (per person/per conveyance) — $600;

• Emergency Advanced Life Support 2 (per person/per conveyance) — $700; and

• Mileage (per loaded mile) — $10.74.

Amended language in 147.03 of the ordinance changed the Division of the Fire Department to Safety and the next line was amended to read: “The Emergency Medical Service is a division of the Delphos Safety Division instead of the Fire Department.”

Several firefighters in attendance questioned if the new language meant the EMS was no longer under the fire department and if so, if a recent application to the state for the drug license for the EMS submitted by the fire department for ALS drugs for the squad would be valid.

No one offered an answer to their question.

Law Director Osting said if anyone on council or the administration would like him to render an opinion on the matter to email him and he would provide the opinion on the language change and what he feels it means to the EMS and fire department.

Also passed on the third reading was an ordinance reducing the salaries of elective officials by 25 percent — all paid monthly — was heard on second reading. The mayor will make $13,500 per year; the city treasurer will make $2,400 a year; the city law director will make $7,500 per year; the president of council will make $2,400 a year; individual council members will make $2,250 a year; and the city auditor will make $7,500 a year.

The ordinance will not take affect for any elected office until the person now holding the position is re-elected or replaced.

In old business, Councilman Jim Knebel asked if the reduction in municipal lighting was underway. Berquist said he had been in contact with American Electric Power and there was a fee to remove the lighting a well as to just turn them off.

“It will cost us $17 per light just to have it shut off,” Berquist said. “And that’s monthly.”

In new business, Councilman Mark Clement asked if the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was aware it’s possible to walk across the canal at the south end of town.

Berquist said they would be aware of it today.

The next council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.

Last Updated on Monday, October 21, 2013 11:51 PM
 

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