Proposed ordinances in Jackson address EMS issues in community

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JACKSON – Public hearings will be held during the Nov. 23 meeting of the Jackson Township Council on two ordinances that would, if adopted, impact emergency medical services (EMS) in the municipality.

Township Council President Andrew Kern, Vice President Martin Flemming, Councilman Stephen Chisholm and Councilman Nino Borelli voted “yes” on separate motions to introduce the ordinances during a Nov. 9 meeting. Councilman Alexander Sauickie was absent.

Kern said Flemming, who is the council’s liaison for emergency services, brought several issues regarding EMS to the attention of the governing body.

In an interview on Nov. 11, Flemming described the circumstances that prompted the introduction of the two ordinances.

“We were approached by (someone) from Jackson First Aid and his complaint was that for-profit nursing homes and assisted living facilities were calling the squad on a pretty consistent basis for non-emergency calls, transports for blood work and normal operations that should have been taken care of by private ambulance services, and (those non-emergency calls) were taking emergency ambulances off the road for those issues,” Flemming said.

“They (nursing homes and assisted living facilities) were compromising our emergency system because they did not want to pay for the ambulances they should have had for their own facility,” the councilman said.

Ordinance 27-21 states that its purpose “is to encourage persons or entities in Jackson to use the township’s EMS when necessary, but to avoid dispatching EMS for non-emergency medical situations. … It shall be a violation … to request a dispatch of an EMS unit for a non-emergent medical response or transportation.”

A person or a business operator would be subject to a warning or to a fee depending on the number of dispatches made for non-emergency medical services, according to the ordinance.

The first non-emergency response would result in a warning being issued. A second non-emergency response would result in a $250 fine. A third non-emergency response would result in a $500 fine. A fourth and subsequent non-emergency responses would result in a $750 fine.

EMS dispatches that were reasonably believed to be life-threatening or an emergency at the time, but are later deemed to be non-emergency will not be counted as a violation of the ordinance.

Ordinance 27-21 does not apply to patient-care facilities, which are addressed in the proposed Ordinance 28-21 and states that its purpose “is to preserve and enhance the availability of first aid squad services for legitimate medical emergency situations in Jackson by regulating the use of EMS units in certain non-emergency situations.”

“Patient-care facilities” are defined as all state licensed nursing homes, rest homes, health maintenance organizations, assisted living facilities, healthcare facilities providing in-patient services, and other licensed or unlicensed medical providers with the capacity to treat 10 or more outpatients simultaneously.

All patient-care facilities in Jackson are required to own, lease, rent or have promptly available by contract sufficient and appropriately staffed private ambulance services for the treatment and transport of patients in need of non-emergency medical care every day.

Violations of the ordinance could result in a dispatch fee of $750 being assessed by the municipality.