Grosse Pointe Farms approves ambulance contract with Medstar

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 16, 2018


GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Like their neighbors in Grosse Pointe City, the Grosse Pointe Farms City Council has retroactively approved a three-year contract with Medstar Ambulance for emergency medical services.

The Farms council voted unanimously in favor of the deal at a meeting Oct. 8. The agreement runs from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2021; the Farms’ share of the $125,000 total annual subsidy is $45,000 for the first year.

City Manager Shane Reeside said the division of costs will be reviewed annually and will be modified based on utilization. Grosse Pointe City and Woods are also part of the Medstar agreement and are dividing the annual subsidy with the Farms.

Council members wanted to know how well Medstar has been working thus far.

“To me, response time is as critical as anything you can expect,” City Councilman Lev Wood said.

Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen said Medstar has been doing a good job for the city, and the company’s CEO “is pretty responsive.”

“Even when we had our own dedicated ambulance at (Henry Ford Medical Center) Cottage, there were some issues,” Jensen said. “This concept is working pretty well.”

The Medstar response time in the Farms has ranged from 90 seconds to 5 or 6 minutes, which is better than the response time it had before, Jensen said. He said that should “even get better” because this plan spreads ambulances among more neighboring communities.

“There’s been no real issues, no major issues” with Medstar, Jensen said.

Reeside echoed that sentiment, noting that this plan calls for roving ambulances in the City, Woods and Farms.

“It actually enhances coverage,” he said. “You can rely on a whole network of ambulances.”

Reeside added that “one of the advantages of this model” is that the emergency medical personnel on the ambulances are working 12-hour shifts, not 24-hour shifts. He said studies have shown that waking from a deep sleep and immediately driving somewhere is like driving drunk; workers on 24-hour shifts usually spend some of that time sleeping because of the length of the shift. Ambulance personnel on 12-hour shifts are awake the whole time, Reeside said.

Over the past few months, Reeside, like Jensen, said the Farms hasn’t had problems with Medstar.

“We will monitor it closely,” Reeside said.

Reeside said the cities bid out this contract and chose Medstar based on cost and quality of service.
In the early 1990s, he said, the Farms had its own in-house ambulance, and prior to that, the city cross-trained officers to be emergency medical technicians, or EMTs. However, Reeside said the “level of training increased dramatically,” and the Farms only averaged one ambulance run per day, so the Farms’ EMTs “really didn’t get as much experience as we would like.” Those were among the reasons the city chose to contract out this service.

Medstar’s personnel get much more experience because of the nature of their job, and Reeside said the company is able to get the latest equipment and make sure its emergency medical personnel get the most up-to-date training.