MANISTIQUE - Due to confusion about ambulance services, Manistique Public Safety Director Ken Golat is looking to set the record straight about the quality of care provided by the city and prevent patients from making poor choices in an emergency situation.
"You should never be afraid to call the ambulance," he said.
The concern comes following comments made by Shelly Baker, a Manistique resident in the process of opening a private ambulance service agency called Rapid Response One EMS. Baker claimed that Manistique Public Safety utilizes an "antiquated, outdated system of emergency care at a very basic level" and that many life saving services were unavailable to residents because of the department's license level.
Currently public safety is licensed as a Limited Advanced Life Support agency, the second highest license available in Michigan, however the department hopes in the future to reach the highest license, Advanced Life Support, commonly known as paramedics.
"We haven't lost one patient for not being a paramedic (agency)," said Golat.
The department currently provides Manistique and Schoolcraft County residents with a variety of life saving services including administering certain medications, emergency cardiac care, treatment of illness at the scene with intravenous fluids, advanced airway management, pediatric care, trauma care, obstetrical care, and treatment for diabetic emergencies.
Manistique Public Safety medics also provide services such as CPR and first aid training to the community.
Because of differences in training, there are some procedures that an LALS agency cannot perform that ALS agencies can. According to according to Manistique Public Safety Director Ken Golat differences in training and service levels can be slight. For example, both LALS and ALS agencies can administer intravenous fluids, medications, and provide pain management, but only ALS agencies can administer morphine.
Despite public safety's success as an LALS licensed facility, offering paramedic services is a major goal for the department. However, for an emergency medical service agency to offer paramedic services and be licensed as an ALS agency, the agency must have trained paramedics - individuals that have personally received the paramedic licenses - available at all times.
Manistique Public Safety does have one paramedic on staff, but because of the current LALS agency license, that paramedic is not allowed to perform paramedic level services despite being fully trained.
"Paramedics are hard to obtain in a rural geographic area ... we want to get the right people to provide the best service," said Golat of the delay in reaching ALS status for the department.
A proposed ordinance introduced to the Manistique City Council on Jan. 13 would declare Manistique Public Safety the primary responder to all medical emergencies within the city. The exception to this would be if another public or private ambulance service licensed as an ALS agency were to open in the city. Ambulances from the agency with the higher level license would be dispatched first to ensure that residents had access to paramedic services.
Rapid Response One EMS is expected to be licensed as an ALS agency and plans to open in the city by mid-February.
"If they have (a paramedic license) before we do they'd get the call," said Golat.
When Manistique Public Safety achieves ALS agency licensed status, the proposed ordinance would allow them to begin taking calls as the primary responder again.