Millage raise proposed for Alger County ambulatory services

ALGER COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - On the March 10, 2020 ballot, Alger County residents will be asked to vote on renewing and raising the ambulance millage. The proposed increase is for 0.85 mills.

The current millage sits at 1 mill, and has not increased since it was created 40 years ago.

"We're basically operating an Advanced Life Support Service (ALS) on a Basic Life Support (BLS) millage. We've identified 0.85 [mills] as what we need to run the ambulance millage effectively in Alger County for its residents,” Brock said.

With around 1,200 to 1,300 calls per year, part of the millage increase would help with operating and maintenance costs for ambulatory services. Brock adds that the cost of ambulance supplies and equipment has also increased dramatically in the last 10 years.

However, the big goal, Brock says, is to get more staff in order to decrease response times.

Currently, the on-call paramedic has to wait anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes in order for the EMT to get to the garage before they can leave for a call.

"Our goal with this millage is to put an EMT in the barn with the medic in the ambulance garage, so when a call comes in they’re immediately out the door so that our response time is fast,” Brock said.

Burt Township EMS has recently teamed up with Alger County EMS, increasing the need for more staff.

Burt Township Supervisor, Sheri Shafer, says she supports the millage because it will bring more lifesaving services to the area.

"I think this life support will be a fantastic program for everybody. As long as we can save lives, that’s what we're all about," Shafer said.

Brock adds that without the millage raise, there could be cuts to some emergency services.

"If we don't get the increase in the millage and if things don't change, we would be looking at going back to Basic Life Support and that is not a step we want to take in Alger County. Advanced Life Support saves lives,” he said.

Brock says ambulatory services aren’t the only thing covered by the millage. Rescue 21, a team that responds to marine rescues, car extrications, and search and rescue dives, is also run with ambulance millage funds.

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