Improved ambulance service, expanded internet availability on Atlas Twp. radar for 2021

ATLAS TWP. — Enhanced safety and communication top the list of priorities for officials in Atlas Township as 2021 gets going.

“We are hoping for renewals on our police and fire millages,” said Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones.

Voters likely will weigh in on the question in the May election. The request is for 2.1 mils for police coverage, and 1 mil for fire protection.

Law enforcement and fire protection aren’t the only safety issues facing Atlas Township.

“I am going to pick up where I left off in 2016 and look at trying to decrease the ambulance response times,” said Kautman-Jones.

She expects to involve state authorities as she attempts to partner with “any adjacent community that may be willing to help us.”

“It’s an extremely political process because you have a mix of private companies delivering emergency transport services, and we understand they’re for-profit companies, and they want to be where they can get business,” she said. “And that is not necessarily in our township.”

As a business owner herself, Kautman-Jones appreciates the companies’ business model.

“They’re not going to bring a rig out here and just park it,” she said. “But if we can come up with something where those emergency vehicles are positioned in areas close to us, then we don’t have to have people waiting … for an ambulance.”

According to the information Kautman-Jones has at this time, ambulances can take more than 20 minutes to travel to Atlas Township, she said. Township firefighters can provide first responder services while the ambulance is en route.

“And that’s awesome,” Kautman-Jones said. “But when you need someone to transport, they (firefighters) can’t transport.”

In nearby townships in Oakland County, ambulance services are provided round the clock by the municipalities. Kautman-Jones hopes to tap into that resource.

“If you could allow them to help in a pinch, it would be beautiful,” she said.

The challenge is that private companies must achieve certification under the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Service, which ensures “operational efficiency and clinical quality, while decreasing risk and liability,” according to the CAAS website. Municipal ambulance services are covered under the municipalities’ insurance policies, and aren’t required to obtain CAAS certification, she said.

“And they (municipal authorities) are of a mindset that they’re not paying for CAAS certification,” Kautman-Jones said.

Besides safety, Kautman-Jones hopes to tackle the not-so-small matter of township-wide access to high-speed internet, specifically, expanding and improving the access to areas where it currently is not available.

“When the cable companies came through, they put the service lines where it was basically low-hanging fruit, where they had the most customers,” she said. “So, as the township has grown and people have built in the more rural areas, they don’t have (high-speed internet) available to them,” she said, adding that the franchise agreement with the company basically locks out other internet providers.

Township officials also will continue to move forward, in cooperation with the Genesee County Road Commission, on the road maintenance program, and Kautman-Jones does not expect any problems coming up with matching funds to finance the work. Specific road projects are yet to be determined.

In addition, the township’s website will be revamped this year, with an eye toward providing a video source for all township meetings.