The final draft of a five-year Emergency Medical Services agreement is scheduled for approval by the Fulton County Commissioners sometime in February, after it undergoes a bit more scrutiny.
The updated contract includes a provision allowing the individual fire departments to dictate their own staffing and internal policies, an area of contention during negotiations for a previous contract.
Hashed out by the commissioners and the county’s fire chiefs and township trustees, the proposed contract is currently facing an approval process by the governing boards of the entities involved. It was drafted during meetings in September and November, and will require at least three readings by the individual boards to receive their authorization.
The entities plan to meet again at a later date so the commissioners can approve the agreement by resolution.
“I’m quite happy with it. It was well thought out, and I think it’s going to work well for all parties involved,” Commissioner Bill Rufenacht said.
The agreement specifies the establishment of a Fulton County Emergency Medical Services Executive Committee. The committee will consist of a current county commissioner and the county’s Emergency Services Director, both in non-voting positions, and an elected representative from each subdivision. They include the City of Wauseon, the villages of Archbold and Swanton, and York, Gorham, Royalton, and Amboy Townships.
By majority vote, the executive committee will have the authority to enact protocols and policies and utilize the panel’s funds. The committee can also make recommendations of its own, or at the request of the county’s fire chiefs, on matters such as qualifications and requirements and spending or alloting funds generated by an emergency services levy. Should one of the seven entities withdraw from the contract, the executive committee will oversee operations in that territory.
The county’s responsibilities include providing ambulances and their equipment and supplies, and paying for their repair and maintenance. It will also create a position for a medical director who will oversee emergency services operations.
The individual fire departments will develop their own staffs and internal policies. And while they’ll be primarily responsible for their own territories, they have agreed to assist the other entities when requested.
Rufenacht said all of the negotiating parties approved the agreement’s final draft at a special open session with the fire chiefs.
Archbold Fire Chief Andy Brodbeck said the negotiations went well and included “good, open discussion. We were looking for a win-win contract, and that’s what we ended up with.”
He said, unlike talks for a previous contract, the current negotiations didn’t include specific requirements that didn’t fit every fire department. He said it was agreed that each department can operate by its own internal policies “as long as they’re fulfilling prompt, quality service.”
Even though Swanton’s firefighting and ALS personnel agreed with those specific requirements, Chief Howard Myers said, “Overall, countywide it’s a victory that everyone’s on the same page.”
Myers is also pleased with the increase in levy revenue the contract offers beginning in 2017.
“We’re on board with the way (the contract) is. We were pretty happy with it from the start,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.