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GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board, on Tuesday, approved the recommendations of the township’s ambulance committee, which the board formed last year to review and advise on the results of …
GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board, on Tuesday, approved the recommendations of the township’s ambulance committee, which the board formed last year to review and advise on the results of the McGrath Consulting Group study on ambulance service options.
The committee met on Feb. 8 to develop recommendations on possible changes to the McGrath study draft, released to the town board last month. Among the recommendations is that the town board consult with the township attorney on its rights to adjust the $42,600 still owed to the consulting firm.
“We are highly unsatisfied,” said committee chair John Bassing.
The board approved the removal of some sections of the draft that the committee felt weren’t relevant to the discussion, such as criticism of the Greenwood Town Board and its history of controversies. The recommendations also question why the consultants did not request input from the township’s longest serving First Responders.
The board appointed Bassing as the board’s new liaison with McGrath, and also directed that all communication go through the town clerk’s office. The board will also contact the IRRR, which is funding part of the study, to let them know of the township’s concerns.
“This report was 80- to 90-percent boilerplate,” said Supervisor Barb Lofquist.
The board will also request that McGrath complete the study as their proposal laid out. The draft study did not address several of the major issues the township was wishing to explore including looking at potential changes in the area’s demographics and most importantly, according to the committee, ideas for greater shared services and regionalization of ambulance services.
The original proposal sent by McGrath to the township stated an objective of the study would be to identify the advantages and challenges associated with regionalization, to develop a recommendation for an organizational chart for a regionalized call force, look at which EMS stations should be utilized in a regionalized service, and develop a proposed budget and capital plans for a regionalized service.
According to the proposal, McGrath said their study would “answer the questions, can Greenwood Township and surrounding areas develop and improve EMS through greater cooperative efforts; what level of EMS is most appropriate and cost effective within the service area; and what is the most cost-effective means in providing ALS services.”
The draft study released barely looked at the idea of regionalization, the committee noted, and while it did propose some ideas for bringing ALS/paramedic support to the area, it did not describe how those ideas could be implemented within the current, existing structure.
“We’ve learned a lot from this study,” said committee member Lee Peterson at the Feb. 8 meeting. “We’ve learned about studies, and about consultants. We’ve learned we have to do things ourselves and make our own decisions.”
The committee noted that some of these problems might have stemmed from the consultants’ insistence of just working with one member of the town board, Mike Ralston.
“There was a lack of community with the full board,” said Peterson. Ralston is not running for re-election to his seat on the town board in March.
The committee talked about the idea of a large regional service, possibly served by a private ambulance service.
“My goal is a better ambulance service in the real world,” said committee member Lee Peterson at the Feb. 8 meeting. “Right now, we have one that is broke, in the red.”
Peterson said that both the Virginia and Hibbing ambulance services have ALS.
“The status quo in the outer areas profits them,” he said. “They need the transfers. They don’t want anyone else to have the transfers.”
“Maybe we are better off to have a private ambulance service, just saying this, take over Virginia and the entire area. Then the transfer funding would help everyone.”
“There are opportunities to make this work if there is cooperation,” committee member Rick Stoehr said.
“I like the idea of reaching out to Tower, Vermilion Lake, Kugler, and Eagles Nest,” said Peterson, “to try to work to a conclusion that we need a new ambulance service, a new model.”
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