Cities enter collaborative EMS agreement

ENGLEWOOD — In reaction to the cost of maintaining and operating emergency services and the increasing difficulty to hire and retain appropriate personnel, the cities of Clayton, Englewood and Union will enter into a “Joint Emergency Services Collaborative Memorandum of Understanding.”

All three cities each maintain and operate full-service emergency service programs, including fire and emergency medical service (EMS) consisting of facilities, apparatus, equipment and personnel.

Englewood has faced staff shortages. Currently the department has only 10 full-time firefighters and at times only one of the two city fire stations can be staffed resulting in service ‘brown outs.’

Englewood council recently amended an ordinance to allow the fire department to hire nine additional firefighters (which could be either paramedics or EMTs).

Many communities in the Miami Valley are facing similar issues. The increase in job openings is due in part to the number of firefighters reaching retirement age.

A large number of firefighters were hired in the 1980s when fire departments were transitioning from all-volunteer staffs to paid staffs. The recent large turnover rate is something many communities haven’t experienced in years and it is affecting the hiring pool, largely due to fire academy enrollment dropping off in recent years.

“The Englewood Fire Department is not immune to brown outs, staff shortages, just like a great number of other jurisdictions in Montgomery County,” said City Manager Eric Smith. “The chief and I are recommending an improvement in the staffing so that a number of part-time positions would become full-time.”

The reason for the move, Smith explained, was that the city can’t find people willing to work part-time to fill all the positions necessary to staff two stations.

Union Public Safety Director Mike Blackwell said his department has faced the same issues.

“Our department is entirely staffed by part-time personnel, and at times our fire station has been closed for 24 hours for at least one day each month,” Blackwell said. He noted that part of the problem is the pay offered, approximately $14 an hour.

“This collaboration is the best thing for the Northmont community,” Blackwell added. “It is pretty exciting. Union will have better quality of service and we won’t suffer brown-outs anymore.”

Clayton Fire Chief Brian Garver says his department has seen a huge turnover in the last five to six years with people coming and then moving on to other opportunities.

Station 84 located on Crestway Drive, has been closed at least 31 days each year. Station 85 never closes.

“In the last five years we have hired 70 people and only 30 of them still work here,” Garver said. “If you look at our membership, there are only about seven or eight people that have worked here more than five years because of turnover.”

Garver also says the collaborative is a good thing for the communities.

“It will help all three communities,” Garver added. “We will be able to provide a better service to the residents of the Northmont area.”

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered into by the three cities is an effort to efficiently and effectively provide emergency service apparatus response regardless of which city needs it.

The three cities have agreed to maintain and staff the following emergency service stations relevant to the MOU:

• Clayton Station 85 located at 6996 Taywood Rd.

• Englewood Station 98 located at 333 W. National Rd., and Station 99 located at 1099 Union Blvd.

• Union Station 81 located at 109 W. Martindale Rd.

Each city will contribute to the collaboration with apparatus and / or equipment and will provide staffing and coverage areas as set forth in the agreement and will provide emergency response coverage by the closest available fire station, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

Clayton will contribute one staffed station at 6996 Taywood Rd., including one front line fire apparatus and one front line medic to be used for daily staffing and will include coverage with a ladder truck to the southern area of Englewood as well as other areas of Englewood and Union as needed.

Englewood will contribute two staffed stations, Station 98 and Station 99, and will maintain two front line fire apparatus and one spare fire apparatus, three ambulances to be utilized for daily staffing and one spare ambulance for special events and collaborative sharing. Englewood will cover areas of Clayton where Station 98 or Station 99 is closest.

Union will contribute one staffed station, Station 81, with one front line fire apparatus and one front line medic to be used for daily staffing.

The MOU will become effective when the authorized representatives of all three jurisdictions have signed the MOU and mutually agree upon a date and time of commencement.

A participating agency may withdraw from the agreement if issues or concerns cannot be resolved, but must provide written notice with as much advance notice as possible to minimize disruption of emergency services to the communities.

By Ron Nunnari

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Reach Reach Ron Nunnari at (937) 684-9124, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @RonNunnari