TORONTO -The operations of the TEMS Joint Ambulance District were discussed during the Thursday luncheon meeting of the city chamber at the North River Avenue Christian Church.
Clark Crago, chief of operations for the emergency medical provider, talked about the ambulance district's founding.
"Without (the public's support), we wouldn't be where we are today," said Crago, adding the district was founded in 1979 by local business leaders.
Crago said from 1971 to 1979 the city was serviced by a for-profit ambulance service the city along with other local agencies picking up the slack before the Toronto Emergency Medical Service was founded.
"They began with 100 volunteers," said Crago, adding this was before governments required in-depth training. "It was really hard to provide continuous training."
The current TEMS district was founded when voters in Toronto, Knoxville, Stratton and Empire approved an operating levy in 2002, he said.
"We're funded by a 1.5 mill levy which raises about $330,000 annually," said Crago. "That provides for the 24-hour paramedics."
Crago said the district is bullish on obtaining grant funds, which pays for equipment, continuing education, state certification for staff and vehicles. The district also raises funds through insurance payments made from patients' insurance providers.
"Several of the staff at TEMS work part-time there and have full-time jobs as well as families," said Crago.
In 2011, TEMS obtained $40,000 from the state Workman's Compensation for purchase of power lifts to help patients into ambulances, lessoning strain on TEMS workers. TEMS also acquired a $120,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for heart monitors for the agency's four ambulances, said Crago. He added the agency's 30 part-timers and five full-time employees constantly are updating their training.
Personnel from STAT MedEvac also gave a short overview of its operations during the meeting.
In other business, it was announced the chamber would host its annual awards banquet Oct. 11 at Karaffa Elementary School. The banquet will honor the city's first-responders.