(Posted May 12, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
London officials recently dispelled rumors that the city is pulling out of the Madison County Emergency Medical District (EMD) to start its own emergency medical service using the fire department’s paramedics.
At the May 4 city council meeting, Mayor Patrick Closser said, “We have not started any processes. None.”
He continued, “There have been internal discussions. We’re just on a fact-finding mission right now.”
Bill Long, who has served as the city’s liaison to the EMD board for the past eight years, said such discussions are nothing new.
“In those eight years, there has been discussions of the city leaving the district. There’s been numbers pulled multiple times. There’s been numbers pulled again. It’s our job as the city to do the best job for the taxpayers…We look at all the options.”
Closser said that just as previous city administrators looked into options, he decided to do the same when he took office as mayor. Among the possibilities, he said, would be for the city to continue receiving services from the EMD, to pull out and provide its own services, or to work to create a new emergency medical district. Long said that several years ago, he presented council with the idea of creating a district that included the city of London, Central Townships Fire District, and the EMD.
The Madison County EMD is supported by a tax levy and provides emergency medical services to the city of London, as well as Deercreek, Monroe, Oak Run, Paint, Somerford and Union townships.
London resident Doug Pyles does not like the idea of the city pulling out of the EMD. Several times in recent years, Pyles has expressed to council his concern that the city fire department is setting itself up to provide emergency medical services by hiring paramedics and buying equipment that can be used for squad services. He has said that the fire levy was not meant to fund such developments.
At the May 4 council meeting, Pyles noted that a few years ago, council members were split on the idea of allowing the fire department to hire paramedics. Closser was president of council at the time and cast the deciding vote in favor of allowing the department to hire paramedics.
Closser acknowledged that he cast that vote, then stated to council, “When I gave that vote, you guys know what I said. I said, ‘Whatever’s best for the citizens, whatever keeps our citizens the safest, is why I’m voting for that.’ ”
He said the decision makes it possible for the fire department to provide emergency medical care when needed if they arrive on a scene before EMD personnel do.