Ambulance board hears from SMCAS

Published 10:56 am Thursday, November 4, 2004

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS - Marlene Beach, executive director of SMCAS in Berrien County, presented a proposal to the Cass Ambulance Board Tuesday evening at the Cassopolis Municipal Hall.
The board had previously received a proposal from Life Care, out of Kalamazoo. Either company if chosen would take over the Cass Area Ambulance Service equipment, with its employees having to go through a hiring process by the new company.
Supervisors of the townships served by the service and the Village of Cassopolis, will discuss the two proposals, as soon as Beach submits three-year figures. Her proposal on Tuesday was for one year, but she expects yearly increases to be more than five percent. "Fuel has risen dramatically," she said and her projections are based in part on this cost.
The board members did learn from the president of the board, Roger Leach of Penn Township, that the Cass service is in much better shape than a few months ago.
That was good news as should the service be dissolved during the first part of next year, all bills would need to be paid.
The numbers have gone from being nearly $30,000 in debt to less than $20,000, with enough accounts receivable to take care of this amount.
The lower amount was due partly from Leach seeking tax abatements, which are still to be decided, from the IRS, and also from Leach and assistant administrator Doug Michaels, working long hours without charging the service.
Beach explained if SMCAS was the service chosen, the newer ambulance would be stationed in Cassopolis and the crews would rotate, so Cass wouldn't always have the same staff. All those hired would need to be qualified as EMTs or paramedics and they would be eligible for the union benefits.
Presently in Berrien County, a household can purchase a membership in SMCAS for $40. Then if needed for a run, SMCAS wouldn't charge anything above that family's insurance coverage.
SMCAS is also beginning training for first responders in Berrien with firefighters.