Anyone who has suffered a heart attack or been injured in an accident can tell you that five minutes waiting for an ambulance can be an eternity — or the difference between eternity and survival.
It’s less time than it takes to make a pot of coffee and more than a good athlete needs to run a mile. But that’s approximately the amount of time that could be saved per run under a new deal between Acme Township and North Flight EMS that will see an advanced life support ambulance stationed in Acme.
Under the plan approved by the Acme Township board last week, North Flight will locate an ambulance at the Acme Township fire station near the intersection of M-72 and U.S. 31 for 16 hours each day.
Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department responds to most medical emergency calls from the Acme station within six minutes and can provide basic life support.
North Flight also sends an advanced life support ambulance, but the response time from their base on the western edge of Cherry Capital Airport to Acme is 10 to 12 minutes, said Pat Parker, chief of Grand Traverse Metro Fire.
Under the new deal, North Flight, a division of Munson Healthcare, will provide the ambulance, all supplies, and a trained paramedic; Acme will have to contract for ambulance drivers with Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department at an estimated annual cost of about $82,300.
The township will use a fire fund surplus to cover costs for this year. The township would need to levy 0.3 mills of property tax for 2013 to support the ambulance; for the owner of a home with an $80,000 taxable value, that will mean about $24 a year. A final decision on the property tax levy won’t be made until Grand Traverse Metro Fire millage rate is set in August or September.
Eventually, Acme expects the call volume to grow until North Flight no longer needs the subsidy and the ambulance can be stationed there 24 hours a day.
This isn’t just about response times, though that’s a crucial factor in any emergency. It’s also about getting there in a reasonable amount of time with the right equipment and training to make a difference.
The advanced support ambulance will also be able to intercept basic life support ambulances heading to Munson Medical Center and offer advanced care many minutes sooner.
As public policy goes, it doesn’t get much better than giving citizens better access to high-end emergency medical care and to do it in a hurry.