December 19, 2012 - Atlas Twp.- A vacant township garage may soon have a tenant that could save a life.
Representatives from Regional Emergency Medical Services (REMS) attended the township meeting to discuss locating a facility in the community.
REMS is a joint-venture partnership between Flint-based hospital McLaren Health System, and Southfield-based Community EMS, Inc (CEMS), a non-profit ambulance service. After first opening in January 1996, REMS serves Lansing, Fenton, Flint, Flushing, along with Genesee and Mundy townships. The company employs about 300 with 75 vehicles.
"As many residents are aware, the ambulance response time in the township is very slow," said Shirley-Kautman Jones, township supervisor. "The REMS is going to be a benefit to the community. The idea was to use the south bay in the township garage to house an ambulance and develop some kind of base or post in the township. The first meeting was on Dec. 5 to discuss the idea of a lease."
The township building inspector will research the prospects of using the building to house the ambulance and have it be occupied around the clock.
Township Attorney David Lattie responded to the proposal.
"The ambulance would not just serve the township, but other parts of the county too," said Lattie. "Our sticking point is people would have to be on site 24 hours per day and during the evening plus sleeping at the post. This presents a (building) code problem for the township—a number of expenses are associated with this including restrooms and land lines, fire alarms to name a a few. Security is also an issue. The garage is not designed for sleeping."
Daniel Lee, operational manager for REMS, attended the township meeting.
"We are still in the process of a feasibility study," said Lee. "We are interested in a landlord—tenant agreement. Right now we are pulling a study from Genesee County to determine the call volume. REMS needs five calls per day to make the venture profitable and support a physical presence in the community."
"The township and area have been growing over the last few years—population increases, traffic on M-15 and The Pines (care facility in Goodrich) have all made this area very attractive to REMS," added Lee.
A volunteer ambulance base previously ran in Atlas Township from the Goodrich Lions Club hall on M-15.
Township resident Emery Bennett served as board chairman of the Goodrich Volunteer Ambulance for 19 years.
"The main reason the ambulance service left, was there was no millage to support it," he said. "The (Wheelock) hospital closed too and we just ran out of money. It was not due to a lack of business. The need is there."
James Lusty, a township resident with more 28 years in the medicial profession as a Registered Nurse at Hurley Medical Center was cautious about the ambulance.
"Since REMS is associated with McLaren I would be concerned that's where patients would go," said Lusty. "Genesys Medical Center in Holly is closer or if necessary Hurley is a level one trama center. Just because they (REMS) is affliated with McLaren I hope they are not bias."