LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Maintaining high-quality EMS service requires investment
Published 4:00 pm Saturday, July 9, 2022
Nearly every person in this community will need to rely on emergency medical services (EMS) to help someone they love at some point in their lives. When you call for help, you can trust that someone will always show up. Our team at Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service takes that responsibility very seriously. We have been providing EMS services in this community since 1976, and are working hard to maintain the service you expect and deserve.
That’s why we are seeking an increase in the special assessment that helps pay for our services. Currently, each parcel within our service area pays $20 a year for emergency services.
That rate has not increased in more than 25 years, while the cost of protecting our community has gone up considerably. We have seen the cost of recruiting and retaining high-quality EMS teams rise significantly as the national EMS staffing crisis hits home. Our supply costs have increased by 63 percent. And of course, everyone knows how high gas prices are. We have done everything possible to maintain our services, but now we need your help.
The special assessment increase would take place over the next five years. In the first year, the assessment would increase from its currently $20 a year rate to $30 a year. It would then increase by $5 per year, until capping at $50. That breaks down to just $4 a month for guaranteed ambulance services in your community.
Every dollar invested in SMCAS goes back into the community. We are a nonprofit, municipality-owned-and-operated ambulance service, meaning our entire focus is to be there for our community when needed. All funding goes directly to our operations so we can serve the community. The additional funding would be used to recruit and retain new and existing staff for SMCAS. They work very hard and deserve to be paid an industry standard for their work.
We don’t take asking for an increase lightly. In fact, we have held off on doing so for a long time. With our costs continuing to increase, this is the best option to ensure the EMS services you all expect and rely on. Our request will be reviewed and approved by your local township/city officials this summer. Please tell them you support a funding increase for SMCAS. We have always been there for you, and now we hope you’ll support us too.
By Brian Scribner, executive director of Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service