Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 7, 2012

Fire department may not be the only service reduction



City residents likely would see a reduction in emergency medical services if Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department replaces the city's fire department.

Traverse City staffs its fire department with paramedics who carry drugs and medical equipment to provide advanced life support. Paramedics can start IVs, open airways, and administer drugs. The city also can transport patients to Munson Medical Center, but instead relies on Munson's ambulance service, North Flight EMS.

Metro provides basic life support with emergency medical technicians and relies on North Flight to provide advanced life support.

Metro won't provide advanced life support to Traverse City, said Chuck Korn, Garfield Township supervisor and a member of the three-township authority that oversees Metro.

"We do the things we do, we do them very well, and we are not going to change," Korn said. "We don't have enough to provide paramedics to all of Metro and the city and we are not going to offer two levels of service,"

Korn said advanced life support is unnecessary, considering city residents are just minutes from Munson Medical Center.

"Minutes mean a lot when you are not breathing or your heart has stopped," countered Capt. Theo Weber of the Traverse City Fire Department.

Traverse City Firefighters Association President Chad Rueckert said the choice for city residents is between a regional service from North Flight or one dedicated to the city.

"We are housed in the city and will always be there first by minutes," Rueckert said. "Sometimes we've waited over 10 or 15 minutes for an ambulance. North Flight is not dedicated to the city, they are dedicated to wherever they are needed."