Pickford Township loses local ambulance service

Sunday night, Pickford Fire and EMS Chief Jim Miller sent out a post on Facebook addressed to the citizens of the community of Pickford. It didn’t resonate good tones.

“After 60 years of providing Ambulance service to Pickford and the surrounding Townships, Pickford Ambulance is sadly embarking on our last shift providing EMS service. At 9am tomorrow (Monday) morning a different agency will be answering our EMS calls. Pickford Township is partnering with Kinross EMS to provide EMS service to our citizens.”

“To be completely transparent,” the Chief continued, “it has been a serious struggle to keep enough licensed personnel willing to do the job over the past several years.”

“Pickford Ambulance Service started 60 years ago as an all volunteer service. It has grown and changed immensely since it’s start. Today we are a paid on call agency providing Limited Advanced Life Support. (One of the last Limited Advanced Agencies in Michigan) By state law we must staff one ambulance 24/7 365 days per year. No matter what level of licensure your ambulance agency is, or if it’s volunteer, paid on call or a full time, this is the requirement. That’s where the trouble comes in. Staffing has become something that is to much for Pickford to overcome. Even paying $11 per hour to be on call, we still cannot get enough people to provide this vital service. We have always covered our shifts and take great pride in that. But, when you reach the point that you have members that are taking their vacation time from their full time jobs to ensure that there is Ambulance coverage, Pickford knew that we could not sustain this much longer. We reached out to Kinross EMS about partnering with us to provide one of our most vital services to our citizens. I want to be very clear, Kinross was approached by Pickford, this is not a take over at all.”

“I do want to throw some food for thought out there about EMS services in the Eastern UP. EMS has changed and so has volunteerism across the country and especially in our area. EMS needs to be a full time paying job. I think it’s sad that we have kids working in fast food making considerable more money than Paramedics, Advanced EMT’s and EMT basics that are taking care of our families during a medical emergency. The only way any township can afford full time EMS services is for us all of us to do it together! We can do this by working together and forming an Ambulance Authority where all the townships own the agency together. I pray that we can make this happen in the EUP and take care of our citizens together.”

“In closing, on behalf of Pickford EMS I would like to thank the citizens of Pickford for all of their support over the 60 years and for allowing us to serve you.”

“On behalf of Pickford Township and the citizens I would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of the brothers and sisters that have served our community on the Ambulance. Thank you all so very much! I feel honored that I was able to work with you and be a part of your team!”

Jim Miller, Chief
Pickford Fire & EMS

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