The City of Willard is facing an inordinately high number of emergency runs with the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the last quarter, we’ve gotten 465 calls,” noted city manager James Pomerich. “That’s an increase of 125. So, it’s a pretty significant increase.”
Pomerich told members of city council that much of the increase is being attributed to COVID-19 by fire officials, including calls to local nursing homes.
“I think we are going to see a lot of other communities reaching out to us,” he pointed out, “and asking us to help with their EMS calls. We are probably going to see less and less help from people, as well as it is getting more difficult to staff people.
“We’re keeping up with everything,” Pomerich said. “Our employees are doing a good job.”
Council member James Johnson expressed some concern that city EMS doesn’t “spread itself too thin while answering calls from neighboring communities for assistance.
“My concern is that as it spreads us super thin if we do this, it has to be able to pay for itself,” he pointed out. “In my mind anyway.”
Johnson said that would also have to include the hiring of any additional EMS personnel to meet the need and handle the upsurge in calls.
Pomerich said that is how the city feels. At first, he said those entities asked if the city could just run their ambulance system for them. The city would be paid for by the call.
“I said I don’t see that happening,” Pomerich noted. “We would be running 10 minutes just to get there. Then, that’s if we have somebody.
“I said the only way it would make sense for us would be to look at putting an actual ambulance there and staffing it,” he added. “Then you are talking a lot of money.”
Pomerich said nearby communities do have levies to cover the costs of EMS coverage.
Johnson said that 10 minutes someone in a nearby village might have to wait for Willard to roll a squad can be a “long, time” to get to somebody.
“That’s exactly what our fire chief said,” Pomerich noted. “He doesn’t want to be responsible for that.”
“We come out losers in that case,” Johnson said.