Ambulance service ends, concerns in the community start

SISTER LAKES, Mich. - Ambulance service at Sister Lakes Fire Department ended at midnight.

Adam Litaker, a firefighter and recent EMT at SLFD told ABC 57 News Thursday that it all came down to money.

"Basically we lost by 16 votes, so we didn't get the mileage."

That mileage was voted down last month by just 16 votes. Litaker said it was set up to fail. The mileage was based on the amount of acres a homeowner owned, not each household.

"It basically got all the farmers turned against us," Litaker said.

Sister Lakes Fire Department has provided fire and ambulance service to Keeler, Bainbridge, Silver Creek and Sister Lakes Townships for 58 years. The volunteer department was maned 7/365 until midnight.

'We're still going to have fire and provide for the community, we're just not going to have an ambulance anymore," said Litaker.

Pride Care Ambulance Service took over at midnight. Pride Care will respond to all medical emergency calls from this point forward in the area.

"If the ambulance gets on the scene then they have to call us. It just seems like a drawn out process compared to us all being bale to go all at once," Litaker explained.

The biggest concern right now is response times to an emergency.

"I realize money is tight these days but people have to realize that there is no price that can be put on a life," Linda Calahan of Sister Lakes said.

Calahan said she is very concerned about how long it will take an outside agency to respond to a call.

"The process Coloma uses in moving their ambulances around has been proven on call times that they do not respond in proper time that is required by the state of Michigan."

In a statement released to ABC 57 News Thursday evening Pride Care Ambulance claims that response times will be strict.

“Pride Care Ambulance will provide Sister Lakes full time, 24 hour ambulance coverage, staffed with highly trained Paramedics.  Pride Care demands the strictest response times, and will be reporting those response times monthly to Sister Lakes, as we do for all 28 governmental agencies we service in Southwest Michigan.  Pride Care recognizes that change always evokes questions, concerns, and also criticisms. We are sensitive to those concerns and want to assure residents that Pride Care will provide full time, multi-ambulance service, with guaranteed response times that are significantly under typical standards for rural settings," Ann Balow, Community Relations Director with Pride Care.

Calahan said she hopes this isn't a done deal. There is a Township meeting Tuesday night and she hopes that those living the community will come out and speak out against the change.

"We did the best we could and I hope to see us back in service again soon," Litaker said.


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