TORONTO - Some citizens in the northern edge of Island Creek Township are ready to deliver a petition, including more than 250 signatures, to Island Township trustees regarding what the citizens contend is a possible loss of emergency medical services currently provided by the TEMS Joint Ambulance District.
The petitioners are concerned about the termination of an agreement in November between the township and TEMS that residents say could affect emergency medical services to the Wallace Heights and county Roads 46, 42 and 56 areas that are close to the TEMS Headquarters in Toronto. The TEMS District currently is comprised of Toronto, Empire, Stratton and Knox Township.
The petitioners in the affected areas also plan to host a public meeting on the issue scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Karaffa Elementary School in Toronto.
Currently TEMS services those areas, but some residents are concerned the termination of a legal agreement between TEMS and the Pleasant Hill Volunteer Fire Department could lead to longer response times during calls to Jefferson County 911.
Bob Bertram, a resident of Wallace Heights off county Road 46, said residents in the area would rather continue to be serviced by TEMS during emergencies rather than emergency medical technicians at the Pleasant Hill VFD because of the area's proximity to TEMS.
"(Petitioners) have a list of areas we want TEMS to be the first responder for," said Bertram, adding some of the areas are less than five minutes from TEMS headquarters in Toronto. "We're going to give (the petition) to Island Creek Township trustees at 7 p.m. Tuesday during the trustees' meeting at the Island Creek Township garage."
The Pleasant Hill VFD currently has two daytime paramedics on staff from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The petitioner said some of the distant township areas could see up to a half-hour for ambulance crews from Pleasant Hill or Steubenville to arrive.
Bertram also said he's not trying to ignite a "turf war" between ambulance providers but is concerned about the safety of residents in the affected areas. He added petitioners would like to see the parts of Island Creek Township incorporated into the TEMS Joint Ambulance District, and, according to Ohio Revised Code, township trustees have the ability to make that happen.
"It's about five minutes travel time from TEMS to some of these areas," said Bertram. "I would like to see these areas (incorporated into TEMS). I think these areas should be absorbed into the TEMS district."
Any areas incorporated into TEMS would give residents a vote on the TEMS operating levy as well, he said. Currently, some of the residents of the affected areas are taxed on emergency medical and firefighting services provided by Pleasant Hill VFD.
Pleasant Hill fire Chief Dominick Andreozzi has said the station recently employed daylight emergency medical technicians to answer daylight calls. He also said some of the areas of Island Creek Township now serviced by TEMS aren't being handled by his department.
"The (Island Creek) trustees have been very sympathetic to us," said Bertram, adding he's hoping some of the trustees show up for Thursday's public meeting. "They understand the issue."
Bertram said TEMS board members also will be attending the meeting, and the public is encouraged to attend and voice opinions, he added.
For information, call (740) 537-1640.