September 17, 2008 ALMONT — Committees have been formed, equipment lists are being created and training classes have been scheduled. Now, all the township needs to get their Medical First Responder program up and running are volunteers—men and women to serve their community.
Fire Chief Paul Wilcox has been asked to get the word out.
"We need people to man it," Wilcox said of the unit. Medical first responders are dispatched at the same time as EMS units to medical emergency calls received through 9-1-1. Their goal is to stabilize a patient and assess needs before paramedics arrive.
"We'll need a minimum of 20 to 25 people to make this thing succeed. We have to be able to prove to the state that we can have someone on call 24 hours, seven days a week."
Wilcox said volunteers will need to submit to a physical and background check. The township will provide the necessary 60-70 hours of training. Almont recuits have been invited to participate in classes hosted by the Dryden Fire Department which start in October.
So far, Wilcox said about eight on the fire department have expressed interest, but he stressed that firefighting experience is not necessary.
"We would prefer people with basic medical training but we'd ask anyone interested to contact the fire department," he said.
First Responders will be paid per call.
Wilcox said he's in the midst of meeting with neighboring communities who have established Medical First Responder units, like Dryden and Elba townships.
"We want to learn from their experiences first," he said, referring to things like equipment and vehicle needs.
Wilcox said he's been pleased to learn that other First Responder units in Lapeer County are known for building goodwill and feelings of safety in a community.
"These (townships) have said it's the best thing they've ever done," Wilcox said.
"There's lots of good in it for the community."
The township board decided to study the option of creating a Medical First Responder unit after some residents expressed concern over ambulance response times.
Any township or village residents interested in joining the Medical First Responder team is asked to contact the Almont Fire Department at 798-8111. Leave a message if there's no answer and your call will be returned, Wilcox said.