Mount Pleasant working to fix outdated ambulances

CREATED Feb. 25, 2013

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MOUNT PLEASANT - Village board trustees in Mt. Pleasant want residents to know their concern for ambulance safety has not fallen to the wayside.

The issue became a point of discussion during Monday’s board meeting after an ambulance stalled twice Friday night, at one point with a patient in the back with chest pains.

“We realize this needs to be addressed with expediency,” said board trustee Karen Albeck.

The ambulance has broken down five times just this year. The Village Board has budgeted money for a new truck for the past three years but has been unable to agree on whether to buy new or remount – which combines refurbished used pieces with a new chassis complete with new electrical wiring.

“That would cost the village anywhere from 60 to 80 thousand dollars less than a new one and if we could do a remount, we could really get a couple of ambulances,” said Albeck.

“It’s frustrating when your rescue squad goes down,” said resident Ken Otwaska.

He’s frustrated the village hasn’t taken care of the ailing ambulance fleet. He’s a taxpayer and retired fire fighter.

“I’m just happy that you guys, Channel 4 at least picked up on this,” he said.

Board trustees blame the Fire and EMT Commission for not giving them information to compare the pros and cons. Albeck said the Mt. Pleasant Village board also hasn’t fully agreed with Sturtevant’s board on an option. The two jointly use South Shore Fire Department, though the financial responsibility is heavier on Mt. Pleasant. Fire officials call the delay frustrating seeing what it’s come to.

“I find that frustrating yes, especially with the age of our fleet,” said Interim Chief Mark Pierce.

“Sometimes you just wish you could say ok lets just go with one of these options and then delve into the deeper options with the rest of the fleet,” he said.

The board has again budgeted for a brand new ambulance this year. And the fire department now has the green light to seek bids on both new and remount options to get some replacements sooner than later.