An Opinion Maket Columnist with The Herald-Palladium newspaper has rankled the Board Chair for Medic 1 Ambulance Service headquartered in Benton Harbor to the point of a full-tilt rebuttal, which he has asked to have shared with the community at large.
A lengthy editorial opinion piece written by Enid Goldstein in The Herald Palladium's Wednesday, February 24, 2016 edition is laden with questions, theories, concerns and comments on a wide range of topics related to the community-owned ambulance service provider, leaving Board Chairman Pete Sinclair baffled and concerned in his own right.
Here is Sinclair's response to the opinion piece, and following his comments you will find a link to the original column as it appeared in Wednesday's local newspaper:
As chair of the Medic1 Board of Directors, I would like to respond to the opinion piece by Enid Goldstein. (Opinion Maker, HP on Feb. 24, 2016). Ms. Goldstein did not talk to me prior to writing the article but felt at ease using my name.
Medic1 is a municipal corporation owned by 16 municipalities. We also contract with four other cities and townships. We are subject to the Open Meetings Act, the Freedom of Information Act and are required to have an annual audit. Each member municipality appoints a representative to the board of directors and each has a vote. The board meets monthly and provision is always made for public comment.
In addition to the Medic1 board, I have served on a school board, a county commission and two state level boards. I can say without hesitation that the members of the Medic1 board are some of the most competent and dedicated of any I have served with.
In regards to the Medic1 employee who was convicted of stealing drugs, it was the Medic1 administration that caught the perpetrator and then cooperated fully with the various law enforcement agencies involved. The individual was immediately fired. Medic1 has nothing to do with criminal sentencing which is a function of the courts.
Our medics work 10 days a month for a 24-hour shift. This schedule is very usual for both fire and EMS across the country. There is no mandatory overtime besides the 16 hours in a normal work week. The medics rotate among our five stations. Some stations are more busy than others. During union negotiations, management offered a 12-hour shift for 20 days a month but this was rejected by the union.
I will not dispute the union steward’s statement of wages. However, in addition to wages we also pay social security, medicare, health insurance, retirement, health savings account, uniform allowance and workers comp insurance. By contract employees will receive a 2 percent wage increase on March 1.
It is true that we own 12 ambulances. There are never less than six in service. During the day there are seven. Usually one or two are in the shop for maintenance. In addition, special events or emergencies require additional units.
Medic1 ambulances are equipped with Lifepak 15 Monitors that can transmit 12 lead EKG to the hospital in real time. They also have LUCAS CPR machines. In 2015 we received a reward for treatment of heart attacks from the American Heart Association.
(see HP page 3, June 16, 2015)
We have available highly trained “Critical Care” paramedics for use on inter-facility transfers which require specialized equipment and care.
Medic1 has a complete education and training department which is able to offer training up to and including the Paramedic level.
Medic1 ambulance is one of only 28 ambulance services in the State of Michigan to attain national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance services which is considered the Gold Standard in ambulance service. We have maintained this accreditation since 2000.
Berrien Medical Control is one of the most progressive in the state. Dr. Beyer is continually looking at new drugs and protocols that will improve the level of care. Medical Control also administers a highly technical quality control program to assure that our paramedics are performing properly. Medic1 responds to about 30,000 calls for service every year.
Finally, if Ms. Goldstein thought that we had a long response time last summer she should have complained then, not now when there is snow on the ground. We cannot address complaints if we don’t know about them. The particular call that she wrote about was investigated at the time not only by the Medic1 administration but also by the Lincoln Township Police Department. The written police report indicates that the problem was with Berrien County Central Dispatch and not Medic1.
She seemed to know a lot about our board meetings yet has never attended one. I urge her or anyone to attend our monthly meetings and see how your ambulance service operates. It is not complicated and compartmentalized. It is one of the best in the state.
PETE SINCLAIR, Chair
Medic1 Board of Directors
Here is the original Opinion Maker column from Enid Goldstein: