By Candace Barczyk
It has only been on the road since August 19 of this year, but the Vermilion Township Fire Department’s new EMS service for residents is making a quick impact, responding to 94 calls in its first two months on the road. Fire Chief Frank Triana stated that the vision for the EMS is to provide the 4,965 township residents with quick and efficient service for years to come.
Bringing an EMS service to residents through the township fire department was not a new idea. “When I got hired, I was never told to do it, but it was something we talked about. It has always been there at the back of my mind. The trustees back then were Janet Knittle, Charlie Grisel and (current trustee) Ron Dickel.”
The township already had good service from North Central EMS, with which the City of Vermilion has a contract, and the township would pay the city to receive coverage. “They are fine people, and they know their stuff, “said Triana of North Central. “This has nothing to do with that. It has to do with service.” Chief Triana said Vermilion Township would get a call if North Central needed a hand. The tipping point? “It just seemed like we were out there a lot. Sometimes we would wait more than 20 minutes. I’m not sure if that’s controllable. There was a line waiting for services.”
To meet the demand of a new EMS service, township fire had to add a second squad. It did just that through Westlake Fire. “We got a very nice truck. It was also in need of things we needed out in the field above and beyond what it had. We had a budget of $52,000 to start up, and we came in under budget by a few thousand dollars. We also got $7,900 in donations from hospitals and area fire departments. We contacted everyone. We were very fortunate.”
According to Asst. Fire Chief Robert Kurtz, 90 percent of the township’s firefighters are EMTs, and the township hired an additional 21 part-time staff. Chief Triana said the township got together with University Hospitals for training, which is now done on site. “They are bringing continuing education to the firehouse. Before that, they were doing it online or elsewhere. This was very good for us because of the convenience. It ensured our people were getting trained, and at a cost savings. “
Chief Triana said the bulk of the work was done by Captain Matt Triana, who quickly stated, “It was a whole departmental effort. “ Captain Triana said the Vermilion Township Fire Dept.’s EMS service has a staff on site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., as most calls come in during that time. Volunteers come to the fire station on off hours. The squad’s number one call is from residents who have fallen, followed by those with breathing problems. Captain Triana said early reviews from residents have been positive. Capt. Triana said the township received a letter from a resident, asking when the EMS service was going online. He told the resident it already was. “They were beyond belief,” he said. “We also had a resident who came in and personally thanked us for what we did. “ Chief Triana added, “The volunteers live in the community. We know these people.”
In the end, Chief Triana said the benefit for residents is that the EMS is always on the go. “We’ve had two different squads at two different sites. It’s happened. We’re always moving – that’s the benefit. We’re not going to get called out of the township.”
The township currently has one fire/EMS levy on the ballot, which brings in $239,000 annually. “Everyone in the department is working their tails off, not unlike other volunteer fire departments. Our officers do all sorts of things. I tell the guys they never cease to amaze me. They know what they have to do and do it. These guys are how we got here, plus a supportive board of trustees, residents. I’m very pleased.”
Captain Triana said first responder, EMT basic, and paramedic training hours run from 15 to 48 hours or more. He said officers review anything that needs to be addressed at meetings. “Our officers review things all the time.” As for the initial rollout, all agreed that it was smooth. Capt. Triana said things like medications and treatments change all the time, and it is up to the department to roll with the changes.
“We’ve spent a lot of money. We want this to feed itself. I think that it can and it will,” the chief said. “Only time can give us the answer.”