Council denies fire chief’s request to resume city medical runs

DAVISON — The council voted 4-3 Monday to not resume medical runs by the Davison- Richfield Area Fire Department within the city limits, following a request to re-examine the issue by Fire Chief Brian Flewelling.

Flewelling made a case that, based on current rules used by Central Dispatch, ambulance companies posting ambulances in the city and a decrease since January in the number of medical calls the city would now see a much more manageable number of runs.

He said he pulled together medical runs and statistics from Jan. 15-May 15, in cooperation with Genesee County Med Control and Genesee County 911, reviewing actual ambulance runs in the city of Davison and breaking them down by call type, EMS posting locations and the Middle Flint Regional (MRF) e911 dispatching policy that was in effect at that time.

“As you can see, the Davison Fire Department would have only incurred two medical runs during this time frame in question,” said Flewelling. “From July 31-Dec. 31, 2019 the fire department responded to an average of 12 medical runs per month in the city of Davison However, after the initial change and the change to our dispatch policy that took place in October 2019 the average number of medical runs dropped to 7.5.

“Additionally, from Jan. 1-15, 2020 we only ran three medical runs in the city of Davison during that half of January,” said Flewelling.

Due to additional EMS units posted nearby and more effective dispatch policies, Flewelling said the projected average number of medical calls in the city, from January-June this year would have been 1.5 a month, which he called “a huge difference.”

Now, with the current version of MFR dispatch policy that went into effect on March 4, it resulted in a further reduction to only one medical call we would have been needed in the city from March 4-May 15.

“Additionally, with MedStar and Swartz EMS continuing to have a steady presence in the city, the likelihood of a high medical run volume is reduced,” said Flewelling.

He said the city council should look at having the department make medical runs I the city again because it acts as sort of a safety net at times when an ambulance is too far away to arrive in time to save lives.

“The protest (Sunday) went well, but with the state of affairs this country is in and every state in nation seeing these protests, if something happened to (city police) we’re not licensed to help in the city,” said Flewelling. “God forbid something happen to one of our police officers – there’s nothing we’d be able to do about it.”

Councilman Chris Hinkley asked if anyone has not received medical assistance in the city since the council ended fire department medical runs in January. Flewelling said there were none he was aware of.

Councilwoman Jessica Abraham pointed out that running medical runs is a violation of the Davison Fire Authority bylaws which were written in 1972 and govern the operations of the fire department which is run by the city, Davison Township and Richfield Township. Medical runs are still being made in both townships, who assess their population for emergency services.

The city has asked voters twice to approve tax increases for emergency services and have been turned down both times. bylaws

“From 1972 the agreement states clearly and unequivocally the fire department will not run medicals,” said Councilman Ron Emery. “That has never been changed.”

The department has run medicals for approximately 30 years, but the bylaw forbidding this action was only recently found.

Emery said it is his opinion before the council can decide about making medical runs the bylaw needs to be rewritten. He added you couldn’t find an ambulance in Davison when the city still allowed medical runs and couldn’t afford to pay for it, but as soon as the council ended medical runs ambulances started showing up in the community again.

Abraham made a motion to resume medical runs, stating she didn’t think it was right for one of the three municipalities to remove itself from the practice. She, Hinkley and Councilwoman Leigh LaForest voted to restore services.

After the motion failed, Flewelling asked for guidance from the council about what it wants to see in order for it to reconsider his request.

“What do I have to do to make this happen?” he asked, “To get you to consider passing this?”

Emery praised Flewelling’s efforts.

“You’ve done everything you can do,” he said.

The chief and Mayor Tim Bishop are expected to talk more about the subject before the council will discuss resuming medical runs.