Orion Township Steps Up Rescue Service with ALS Designation
(Mark H. Stowers, Aug. 16, 2021)
Orion Township, MI – It’s quite elementary – the faster someone receives critical care on the scene of an accident or disaster, the better chance they have of surviving. In Orion Township, the nearly 40,000 residents have a better chance of survival after an accident or disaster. The 36-square mile Township now has Advanced Life Support services – a huge step up from Basic Life Support. If an accident happened previously, Orion Fire and Rescue workers could provide actual basic life support but had to wait for a contracted ALS service to show up for more care and transport. When minutes make a difference, this level of care matters.
John Pender, Assistant Fire Chief, helped explain the differences and benefits of the new designation, which started in mid-June.
“It’s a huge increase in service for the residents,” Pender said. “When I started 25 years ago, it was all paid on call and not transporting at all to basic transport to now we transport everyone. There’s no delay. We get called and go there, assess the patient, and are able to transport right to the hospital. The time of calling 911 and getting to the hospital is greatly decreased.”
Orion Township Fire and Rescue can now fully respond to heart attack, stroke and other life threatening situations with more care, access to medicine and advanced technology. To move up to ALS, the Township had to make an investment – three ambulances at a cost of $250,000 each, plus training staff.
“It was quite expensive. We had some staff who were paramedics and we put more in school and have more in school now. We also purchased the ambulances and the advanced life support equipment,” Pender said. “It was about a three year process from start to launch.”
The staff has been increased as well with three full crews to cover each day.
“Right now, we have 15 trained and eight or so that are in school right now. We have 30 firefighters in suppression or online right now. We work 10 per shift,” Pender said.
Township Supervisor Chris Barnett is proud of the new level of service. “We have seen tremendous growth in the professionalism and capacity of our fire department,” Barnett said. “Over the past many years we have grown from a paid on call department, to a full-time department, now to an ALS department. I’m incredibly proud of the OTFT team under the leadership of Chief Duke, Assistant Chief Pender and EMS Coordinator Cameron who have dedicated countless hours to making this happen, and further thank the Orion Township Community who has show the Fire Department their suppor through the passage of a dedicated Fire Millage which has allowed this advancement to be possible.”
The Orion Fire Department is always on the lookout for more firefighters to join. And the department is offering plenty of opportunity.
“Guys like coming here because it’s new. They get a hand in helping which direction we’re going to go and what policies we put in place. They actually get a voice in how things are getting run and they seem to like that,” he said.
The ALS service has already paid benefits.
“We started seeing the benefits on day one. The time of call to the time to hospital is 15 minutes as opposed to 25, 30 or 40 minutes. We saw an immediate level of service go up,” he said, knowing the investment in saving lives in Orion Township is a priceless one.
To learn more about exciting things happening in Orion Township, check out our previous story on the State of the Township Address, and visit the Oakland County Times Orion News Page.