DARLINGTON – It looks like a new leaf has been turned over and there will be peace in the community covered by the Rural Medical Ambulance Service. There is still much that needs to be hashed out between the Rural Medical board members and the EMT volunteers but a compromise was accepted at a meeting on July 30.
Rural Medical Ambulance Service Board (RMASB) president Tim McComish began by stating what has been brought up in the past: the board wanted to make something work.
“It is not good for anyone in the community to fight over this. We have to make this work. This has gone on far too long,” McComish stated.
Arnie Miehe, who was a spokesperson for the EMT volunteers, read a statement and proposal he wrote. The proposal was approved and agreed upon by the volunteers at a previously held meeting.
Miehe began by saying the issues between the board and the volunteers have been going on for years.
“There have been a lot of very hard and vindictive feelings. There have been a lot of lives affected. It’s affected our community. Enough is enough. Our community deserves better and all the people involved deserve better,” Miehe said.
The proposal was for a new six member board be created to run the ambulance service. Three of those members would be chosen by the RMASB and the volunteers would choose three members.
The RMASB would still be financially in control of the ambulance and all the assets of the service but remain as a silent partner. The new board would work with Green County EMS director Dan Nufer on selecting and hiring a new service director. The new board would also be in charge of billing, creating a budget and contracting coverage for the municipalities that will be continuing coverage.
“Both sides get and both sides give. A lot needs to be hashed out still,” Miehe added at the end.
McComish and Dave Ohnstad both agreed it was a good start and were in favor of the idea.
There was some question on how each municipality would be represented on the board. Miehe stated that the number of members was negotiable and it could be changed in the future. Miehe added that the members of the board chosen by the volunteers were not going to be volunteers themselves.
Volunteer representative Jeff Berget stated that, “The intent on this makeup was that Rural Medical will still exists. What we are considering is a new six member board that is a separate organization. We will lease everything from Rural Medical. The new board would be a leasee of the equipment, contract of coverage agreement, set a budget and that organization would work within that budget.”
There was some discussion on if Rural Medical would have to give up its license for this new board to be able to work. It was an item that would be discussed at a later time.
“If we can get this working, Dan Nufer can be a big help to us getting set up and getting a director. I would love to get that rolling while he is still willing to be part of this,” Miehe said.
Green County EMS is contracted with Rural Medical until January.
Darlington Mayor Mike McDermott and members of the city council were present at the meeting. When asked if the city had planned on getting back into the service, McDermott stated that if the details would get completed and brought back to the council, it would make the most sense.
“The more people in it would make it stronger. That is what we need. Make it one and make it go. This is a step in the right direction,” McDermott said.
McDermott asked if they could talk to the other municipalities that left RMASB, like Gratiot. Bob Hermanson stated he had been in contact with the village and township of Gratiot and they asked to be kept in the loop if things were going to be working out, they may get back in.
There were several questions about how many people would be on the board, leasing equipment, and financial operations but details would be worked out later.
“This new board is its own separate organization. We will have to put some faith in them,” Berget said. “The crew wants to do what they are there for: answer the pager when it goes off.”
“We stopped the arrow from spinning and are now pointing it in the right direction,” Miehe added.
Ohnstad stated this would all have to be approved by each of the township boards. A smaller group will gather soon and get some concrete details figured out. Those details will be announced later.