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Commissioners review emergency medical services plan, approve sheriff’s requests

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From left: Seneca County Commissioners Anthony Paradiso, Tyler Shuff, and Mike Kerschner (TiffinOhio.net Composite)

Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners spent some time Thursday morning reviewing a PowerPoint presentation on the future of EMS in Seneca County.

The same presentation was given last Thursday for a meeting of local elected officials. The PowerPoint, titled “We are better when we work together,” includes 15 slides outlining a long-term plan to move to a full-time, paid countywide ambulance service for anyone not covered by squads in Tiffin and Fostoria. Since 1978, Seneca County EMS has been operated by volunteer personnel. Recently, the county added paid personnel to supplement those volunteers.

Seneca County Emergency Services Director Ken Majors said the long-term plan is to move toward a system with paid personnel who are supplemented by volunteers.

The county’s goal is to provide high-quality prehospital care to the service area in 10 minutes or less. According to the presentation, volunteerism has declined. This trend is not only evident locally, but across the nation, with organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army seeing dwindling numbers. In 2014, SCEMS had a roster of 140 volunteers. In 2021, there are 75, with just 37 averaging more than one run per month.

Each of the commissioners agreed that this trend, coupled with increasing out-of-service numbers for the ambulances across the county, has led to a need to build upon the current system so it can sustain itself in the long term.

The commissioners also outlined the financial picture by using numbers from the county auditor’s office to show what is available via the joint ambulance districts. JADs are political subdivisions that combine villages and townships to better provide emergency medical services.

At the beginning of this year, the five joint ambulance districts had more than $1.2 million in carryover funds. The districts are expected to generate more than $800,000 in 2021. All this funding must be used for EMS, per state law.

The county has also increased its commitment to providing better ambulance services, with a budget figure at more than $1.2 million expected for 2021. This is up from about $700,000 in 2020 and $500,000 in 2019.

At last Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners laid out some of this information and let township, village and JAD officials know that they intend to keep working toward a paid, countywide system. Before making any more specific plans, the board must know which entities share the same vision and wish to continue and strengthen the partnership.

The next stakeholder meeting for EMS is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 2 at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center.

In other action, the board approved $76,000 of requests from Seneca County Sheriff Fred Stevens. The supplemental appropriations were for contract services, contract repairs and software licensing and services. The approval followed a request that came last week, in which the commissioners approved $21,000 in supplemental appropriations while waiting to gather more information on the others. In other business, County Treasurer Paul Harrison asked the commissioners to approve a contract with five banks to allow them to accept the deposit of public funds. The organizations are Old Fort Bank, U.S. Bank, First Bank of Tiffin, Huntington Bank and 5th/3rd Bank.

Harrison said the agreements must be signed as a basic procedural step. The contracts are to last through July 30, 2025.

The re-bid for the interior renovations at CROSSWAEH is scheduled for Aug. 26, at 10:30 a.m.

In new business, the commissioners approved:

  • Fund transfers to be made to the Targeted Community Alternative to Prison (T-CAP Fund).
  • Designating depositories for the Seneca County public funds for active and inactive monies for a four-year period commencing Sept. 1.
  • Entering into a participation agreement with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio Services Corp. and West Publishing Corp. on behalf of the Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services, retroactive to June 1.
  • Rejecting all bids received on July 22 for capital improvements at the CROSSWAEH facility.
  • Setting time, date and place to receive sealed bids for capital improvements at CROSSWAEH.

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