Commissioners, EMS office release OOS schedule, provide clarification on EMS issues
[Tiffin, OH – August 16, 2021] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners, in collaboration with the Seneca County Emergency Services office, released this week’s Seneca County EMS out-of-service schedule Monday afternoon.
The OOS schedule is to be released on Monday and Friday each week, in an effort to be more transparent.
The schedules are a public record that could have been obtained by anyone in the past. Commissioners’ office and EMS staff agreed to take an extra step by making it more easily accessible.
Regularly releasing the document is meant to inform the public on what squads are scheduled to be in and out of service for the next few days. The schedules are subject to change and if a squad is not in service in one area, another squad will respond to the call.
Generally, out-of-service numbers have gotten worse over the past two years.
This coupled with the fact that there were 140 volunteers on the Seneca County EMS roster in 2014, but are just 75 now, is concerning to many. Of the 75 volunteers, only 37 are running calls more than once per month.
You can view out-of-service data from the last two years here.
The county has a contract with each joint ambulance district that holds the district responsible for providing personnel. The contract states that the district must provide, to the best of its ability, a “two-person certified crew 24 hours per day with necessary backup and support personnel with adequate facilities to house a two-person crew if applicable.”
In the contract, the county is responsible for funding a medical director, administration, ambulances, communications equipment, medical equipment and supplies and training.
Financially, each joint ambulance district has a tax levy that generates funding that can only be used to better ambulance services. The county has no such levy.
Since 2018, the amount of unencumbered, carryover funds combined for the joint ambulance districts has increased by $849,269.50, to more than $1.2 million (source: Seneca County Auditor’s Office). The districts are also projected to generate $829,000 in 2021.
While the JADs have seen their carryover figure increase, the county has simultaneously increased its commitment to the system. In 2019, the county invested about $520,000 in the EMS system, this increased to $735,000 last year and $1.2 million is budgeted for 2021. These county budget increases include lending assistance to the JADs by providing personnel (the county has hired four full-time employees to try to decrease out-of-service time).
Commissioner Anthony Paradiso challenged the districts to come up with creative solutions.
“We’re looking in the mirror at what we spend on EMS and how we’re spending it,” he said. “I’m asking the current EMS districts to really do the same. Take an evaluation, this is your opportunity to look at a different path.”
Paradiso said there is no proposal on the table for a tax increase.
“I believe there are many steps we can take to do a better job today than we did yesterday,” he said.
Commissioner Mike Kerschner agreed.
“Before we would even begin to consider going to voters for a tax levy, we have to find ways to better use what is already available to us,” he said. “We are in the beginning phases of the conversation on what we need to do to ensure we have a system that can sustain itself into the long-term future. The commissioners will not turn our backs on volunteers. There will always be an opportunity and a necessity for volunteers in our system. They have carried us for more than 40 years, and we hope they continue as long as they are willing and able.”
The commissioners are hopeful that the number of volunteers increases, but each has said they want to be proactive and build a system that takes some of the burden off the current group.
The four joint ambulance districts:
Established at various times in the past 20+ years, the joint ambulance districts include the ten townships and six villages covered by Seneca County EMS. This includes the following:
Attica-Venice-Reed-Bloom-Scipio: Attica Village, Venice Township, Reed Township, Bloomville Village, Bloom Township, Scipio Township, Republic Village. (Recently merged).
Bascom: Bascom Village, Hopewell Township, Loudon Township.
Jackson-Liberty-Bettsvile: Jackson Township, Liberty Township, Bettsville Village.
New Riegel-Big Springs-Seneca: New Riegel Village, Big Springs Township, Seneca Township.
There are ambulances stationed in Attica, Bascom, Bettsville, Bloomville, New Riegel and Republic.