Fire chief asks city council again to consider resuming medical runs

DAVISON — Fire Chief Brian Flewelling has again asked the city council to reconsider its 2019 decision to discontinue medical runs by the fire department in the city.

Flewelling made the appeal to the council at its Jan. 11 meeting where he urged the council to resume medical runs as the county struggles with not having enough ambulances and medical staffing due to COVID-19.

His fear, he said, is someone in the city will require immediate, life saving medical attention and an ambulance will not be able to respond in time.

“I implore you to further protect our citizens,” said Flewelling in a statement to the council. “On a personal level my family… and neighbors may have to wait 20-30 minutes for medical attention when there are well-trained people here who could respond.”

Flewelling made a similar plea last year and the council did not act.

The council chose in 2019 to discontinue medical runs in the city after rising costs burned through the city’s fire department budget in less than a year. This, accompanied by two failed public safety millages, prompted the council to end medical runs in the city.

Since then, the city has discovered the original bylaws for the Fire Authority, which includes Davison, Davison Township and Richfield Township, never included medical runs as part of the fire department’s responsibilities.

“The fire authority agreement states the fire department will not perform medical runs,” said Councilman Ron Emery. “It was signed back in 1972 and revised in 2000. It was a difficult decision we made a year ago. There’s a lot of stuff Brian is working on trying to get the ambulance system straightened around.

While the townships were able to impose a special assessment on its residents for public safety, the city charter doesn’t allow the council to do the same without a vote of the people.

“Davison Township and Richfield Township can charge assessments for public safety,” he said. “We tried and voters shot it down – (medical runs) put the city in financial jeopardy.”

Flewelling said the city pulled the plug on fire runs before new dispatching standards were enacted by Genesee County 9-1-1 and he said the demands on Davison fire personnel should be diminished from the number of calls they were receiving prior to 2019.

Both townships have seen drops in the number of medical calls during that time, he said.

Flewelling cited two calls in the City of Davison since the council ended medical runs, one in which a patient was in full cardiac arrest and the other an unresponsive male who was waiting on an ambulance coming from Fenton.

A Davison police officer performed CPR on the first patient until an ambulance arrived from another part of the county and in the second instance a different ambulance was able to respond faster and arrived in time.

“This is the reality we’re facing,” said Flewelling. “We can’t do anything about their (the ambulances) manpower. I don’t know where they’ll be (stationed). But I know where we are – there’s 10-12 people within the city and 5-6 more within a half-mile who can respond. I know what we can do. We have the ability to have us there 20-30 minutes before ambulance…that can make a world of difference.”

Mayor Tim Bishop said with the city coming up on a budget cycle, he thinks the best option would be to put together a committee to come up with something and to educate the three new council members about the history of the issue.

It is not known when the three communities will address the 50-year-old fire authority bylaws, but the committee exploring that issue could resume its efforts I the months ahead.