The fire department temporarily assumed primary responsibility for EMS calls in Bedford Township in response to the public health crisis.

The Bedford Township Fire Department has defined its role in providing township residents emergency medical services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The department temporarily assumed primary responsibility for EMS calls in the township April 9 in response to the declared public health crisis. Chief Adam Massingill said the shift was prompted by emergency protocols enacted April 5 by the Monroe County Medical Control Authority that prohibited local fire department EMS resources from responding to some calls linked to COVID- 19 unless Monroe Community Ambulance was more than 30 minutes away.

“This shouldn’t be taken as a knock on the service MCA provides,” Massingill said. “They do a good job in meeting response time requirements in our community. We struggled with the idea that during this crisis any resident exhibiting COVID symptoms would call 911 for help and have to wait up to 30 minutes for an ambulance while our Paramedics and Advanced Life Support equipment remained at our stations.”

The emergency protocol was amended April 9, restricting fire department emergency medical responders from being sent unless the ambulance was more than 15 minutes away, but Massingill said the reduction still left him and his department “uncomfortable with residents having COVID symptoms waiting up to 15 minutes for help.”

“Our residents deserve to get fast help every time they call 911 for a medical emergency,” he said.

The fire department and MCA have an agreement in place to mutually assist each other during the declared COVID-19 emergency. ProMedica Transport also continues to assist with transporting responsibilities, said Massingill.

He said normal operations will resume as soon as the Monroe Medical Control Authority discontinues its emergency protocols.

“We hope that our increased efforts will benefit the entire region by reducing response times across the county during the crisis,” he said. “By stepping up a little more for the next few weeks, we may free up an MCA ambulance for other communities and avoid delays for their residents as well.”

The department employs five full-time paramedics and seven paid on- call paramedics along with 37 emergency medical technicians (EMT’s). It has three Advanced Life Support capable ambulances, one Basic Life Support ambulance, and three licensed Basic Life Support non-transporting vehicles available to respond to medical emergencies.

Massingill said the department average response time in 2019 was 6 minutes and 10 seconds.

“I am extremely proud of how our members have stepped in to help out even with the increased risk for their personal health and safety,” Massingill said.

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