Ambulance service to be housed at fire station

FLINT TWP. – Beginning April 1, barring any last-minute glitches, an ambulance service will be housed at Flint Township fire station No. 1, 5331 Reuben Street.

Despite some reservations, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a three-year lease agreement with StatEMS ambulance service, contingent on hashing out some minor details.

Under the approved Ambulance Agreement, STAT will pay the township $600 a month to lease a designated space in the fire hall and provide 24-hour-seven-day-a week ambulance service to the township.

Calling it a win-win situation, Joseph R. Karlichek, STAT’s chief of operations, appeared before the board to address its concerns.

STAT, which is based in downtown Flint, has a fleet of 34 ambulances and about 160 employees, he said.

Under terms of the agreement, STAT is deemed an independent contractor and not an employee or agent of the township and will provide its own tools, equipment, supplies and supervision needed by employees. Township offices, the fire dormitory and other areas are off-limits to STAT employees.

STAT will park only one ambulance at the fire hall and it would be staffed by two people – a paramedic and an EMT – at all times. Sirens would not be activated until the ambulance leaves the residential area near the fire station, Karlichek said.

Resident Mark Rowley, a former firefighter or 26 years, voiced his concerns during the public comments.

“The firefighters live there,’’ he said. “You are bringing strangers into their house. It’s going to be problems.’’

He asked about sleeping, eating and cleaning arrangements and also raised the issue of female EMS staff mixing among married fire fighters.

Karlichek, who said he was a Flushing firefighter for 13 years, said he understood Rowley’s concerns but prefers to maintain a positive outlook. The ambulance staff work 12-hour-shifts and would not need sleeping accommodations. Shift changes occur at the headquarters.

He said STAT currently is operating out of a building near Linden Road and Court Street but the fire station is a better fit.

He said Flint Township averages 18 to 20 medical calls per day and STAT makes regular runs to nearby senior citizen facilities.

Trustee Franklin Kasle wanted to know the fire chief’s opinion. Fire Chief John Ringwelski did not attend the meeting.

Supervisor Karyn Miller responded that the chief understands the township’s need to generate revenue and that leasing space in the fire station will pay half the building’s monthly operating costs.

Trustee Belenda Parker asked if the April 1 start-up was critical and said she would like to postpone approving the agreement until all the minor details are ironed out and to hear from the fire chief.

The approved agreement provides a 90-day-notice to terminate from either party.

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