It makes dollars and sense to privatize ambulance service

By the time this newspaper hits the streets, city officials may have decided to privatize Hamtramck’s ambulance service.

The Fire Department, as part of the firefighters’ employment contract with the city, has been the sole provider of this service.

But that cost has been a burden on the city, and quite frankly taxpayers haven’t been getting their money’s worth. The firefighters who are assigned to the ambulance service are not trained to do significant medical work.

A city official put it this way: The public is getting a glorified taxi ride to the hospital.

Recently, the city council heard a presentation by Detroit Medical Center to take over ambulance service. Essentially what the city would get is an ambulance crew with advanced training that would allow them to conduct life-saving procedures.

The best part is the service would not cost the city a dime. Instead, DMC bills the patients’ insurance companies.

While the city has a contract agreement with the firefighters’ union, there is good cause to break it. That good cause is the fact that our two ambulances are broken down and are not operating.

The two vehicles are old and need to be replaced. But guess what? The city is broke, and in fact is operating in a serious budget deficit.

Hamtramck simply can’t afford the firefighters’ ambulance service.

We don’t mean to beat up on the firefighters, but at some point the union is going to have to agree to this concession for the financial health of the city and the health of its residents.

14 Responses to It makes dollars and sense to privatize ambulance service

  1. Ross Rhea

    March 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    A glorified taxi ride? I guess when you stop breathing, or your heart stops..that taxi doesnt do anything but drive you to the hospital. The firefighters already have paramedics, just seems the city doesn’t want to pay to upgrade the service to advanced. Let me know how it goes when that advanced DMC ambulance takes 15 minutes to show up because they are contracted with many other communities..they are there to make money, not help for the good of it. They have no ties to the city and don’t care. Not like someone who took an oath to serve the citizens. You get what you pay for…

  2. Merissa

    March 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Yeah I don’t think so….I’ve had my dad transported by the hamtramck fire department when he was having a heart attack. They did cpr on him and saved him. I would definitely say they provide more than a taxi service. Plus they are firemen also if they city gets a fire. I for one will not be sticking around Hamtramck if the ambulance service remains in the hands of a private company or the fire department gets outsourced to Detroit or even worse Highland Park.

  3. no one

    March 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    “Not like someone who took an oath to serve the citizens. You get what you pay for…”

    Except that they make 80k a year and only work 9 days a month. Nothing annoys me more than pretend heroes making a killing on the backs of the poor. They don’t even live in Hamtramck. I respect firefighters, but not when their selfishness negatively impacts the city.

    And don’t make any mistakes, it has.

  4. youandme

    March 5, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Please tell me what you feel an inner city firefighter or police officer should make. I can tell you that a firefighter lets say in Canton, MI makes a six figure salary doing a quarter the work as a firefighter in the city of Detroit/Hamtramck/Highland Park. I think these men and women deserve a million dollars a year but understand that is not possible it is also sicking to think you want to pay them 12.00 Per Hr. with no benefits. Do you see your Politician, CPI, Platinum, rushing in to these buildings and putting them out? No! You have men and women who come to work everyday willing to put everything they have on the line when that bell goes off to better the community/people they work for even though they my our my not live there, they are exposed to HIV, Hepatitis, lead, asbestos, along with many more known carcinogens, and have double the cancer rate to prove it. They are more dedicated to the betterment of their community then any politician. Politicians can talk for days on how they care so much about the safety of the people, but your police and firefighter are on the street 24/7 proving they care with actions. There way of life is dependent on the survival of the communities they serve. If the community fails then everything they have worked for is gone. The firefighters and police have families that depend solely on the survival of the community they work for. If the community fails the residents they can pickup and move, the firefighters and police officers can no longer support families when city leader ship fails them, they to must sell their homes, car, put their children on state assistance, and hope they dont get cancer our some other job related illness. A communities survival is dependent on three key things, Leadership, Services, and the people. If leadership fails then services suffer, if the services suffer and people no longer feel safe they flee to safer communities. So tell me who cares more about the survival of the community your firefighters/police or your Politicians, Actions speak loader then word, I see action from my public servants and nothing but words from city leaders. The people will suffer when the politicians fail us. You Get What You Pay For. If you want the city to look like Highland Park then bring in there services, if you want the city to look like Detroit then bring in there services, if you want the city to look like Hamtramck then dont f@#k with my services. The police and firefighters of Hamtramck have been doing more with less for a long long time, we have the best services in the region and our citizens prove it, there is a reason Highland Park and Detroit lost 2/3 of their population and Hamtramck hasn’t. If the Politicians take away the services the good people of the community leave. If you want to destroy Hamtramck then take away the services. It also seems like every politician in the city wants to make their buddy a contractor of some sort whats up with that.

  5. Ross rhea

    March 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    To no one:
    The firefighters average this year was bumped up tremendously this past year due to the city laying off 12 firemen. They had to pay out their vacation bank due to being laid off. They also created lots of overtime from lay offs. You are right, they do work 9 days a month.. Nine 24 hour shifts a month. The danger of the job aside, they are away from their families for the whole day and night. They don’t get holidays and weekends off.. Instead of spending holidays with their wives and children, they are protecting the citizens of Hamtramck.

  6. Pretend_Hero?

    March 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Pretend Heroes??

    Let it be known that the men who work in Hamtramck, do not consider themselves heroes. The people who do consider them in such a light are the men, woman and children who have had their lives changed by the actions of ordinary men called to an extraordinary profession. There is NO pretending in their job. You can’t pretend to save a life. You can’t pretend to put out a fire.

    You are right, that they work 9 days a month, that’s the least they work. It often varys…but that doesn’t matter. The point is that they work 24 hour shifts. So if we say that the average person works 40 hours a week 4 weeks a month that would be 160 hours. 9 days a month at 24 hours is 216. So really even if they work the minimum days a month at 9, they are still working more hours that the average full time employee. More hours equals more pay. It’s basic math.

    And perhaps it is because they chose a profession that removes them from their families during holidays, birthdays, first steps, sicknesses or any other daily acheivement or malady – that they get compensated for that. But more honestly, its because they shoulder more risk. Remember, they run in when everyone else runs out.

    When they aren’t out driving the city taxi (more on this later) – they are protecting its tax base, and lowering the cost of insurance. Working to make a safe and desirable city. That’s the municipal side of what they do.

    To the rest of us, they save lives and houses.

    By lives – from newborn babies to elderly parents. They answer the call at all hours in all instances. From stubbed toes and runny noses, to last breaths and fatal wounds. Having response time so quick, that more lives are saved then lost, getting patients to hospitals in 4 minutes or less. That’s pretty heroic.

    And by house, that’s not saying the four walls and roof someone resides in. It’s the pictures of grandparents long since gone, or the growth chart on the door frame chronicling your childs life. It’s wedding gowns and baseball cards. It’s the irreplaceable and timeless. Sometimes it is just houses… saving the neighbors house from your fire, and there have been many times that blocks have been saved. And this is done with one firehouse and the 7 men on duty for the day. Not many departments in the nation can even say that. Again, I call that heroic.

    They care about the people of that city as if they are there own.
    They teach children how to be safe in an emergency. The fundraise for Goodfellows and MDA. They participate in festivals and clean parks. They do a number of other things that never get publicied. Because, they just do what needs to be done. They patronize local businesses. They may not live within the 2.2 square miles of Hamtramck, but they spend time and resources in the city.

    It is convenient that the city would chose to disclose the pay of what they would call the average firefighter. Their pay was inflated do to the irresponsible decision of the city to layoff half of the department. Causing pay outs and overtime.

    They maintain there own house. Saving money doing jobs that others offices in the city don’t do for themselves – plumbing, painting, snow removal – the list is endless. At any point in the day they wear more hats than just their helmet.

    But at the end of the day, they bargained in good faith with the city for a contract. The city had an obligation to create a compensation package in line with what their budget could afford. The city politicians agreed to the package presented to the fire department, and so they got a contract. This wasn’t an amush by the union or a surprise. It was a negotiation.

    Belittling their job and calling it a glorified taxi service is petty and undignified. . I’m sure that the citizens who rely on the services of the fire department don’t agree. It’s doubtful that the city officials wouldn’t want to put on 90 plus pounds of gear and serve the city in an emergency. Many people aren’t sure what the city officials jobs entail. Assuredly they do something to earn a wage, but calling them names and disparaging their service isn’t fruitful.

    It’s obvious that the city didn’t bargain in good faith. The fire department has made concessions and the city officials have chose not to entertain any of their ideas. The city will even default on a grant (that would save jobs) to prove a point – a point that no one knows. This is not an act of heroism.

    The firefighters aren’t making a killing off the back of the poor in Hamtramck. It’s the city council that is disregarding them. It’s shameful to play with the safety of the lives of peple who voted them into office. Taking away basic services and disenfranchising their citizens is hardly heroic. And it’s unfortunate that there is no one to hold them accountable. But I guess you can’t fight city hall.

  7. Random Resident

    March 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Three questions.

    1. How many Hamtramck firefighters actually live in Hamtramck?

    2. How is it that my community of Hamtramck is so muticultural but the fire department has NO CULTURAL DIVERSITY and is made up of “white guys”?? Hows that???? Is that even legal???????Intensely multicultural community but all white firefighter??????

    3. How is it moral, fair or right that 50% of Hamtramck residents, me included, live below the national poverty line and we struggle every single day just to put food on the table and eat. 75% of our communities school age children in Hamtrmck live in poverty and might eat every day, once. MEANWHILE Hamtramck firefighters are earning dollar amounts that put them all in the top 20% of earners in America. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE????

  8. Ross Rhea

    March 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I believe for the fire department to have a cultural diversity that represents the city of Hamtramck, representatives of those cultures would have to actually go to the fire academy, and then actually apply for the job. The city can’t force people of different cultures to become firefighters.

  9. Dave

    March 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Random Resident……1) why is it relevant where the firemen live? They would lay down their life to save yours. If you’re laying in the street drying or trapped in a house when it’s burning are you going to refuse service from somebody who doesn’t live in Hamtramck? Also they are not required to live in the city by state law. There is absolutely no incentive for them to live in Hamtramck anyways. If they live in the suburbs the quality of life is much better, schools are better, there’s less crime, insurance is much cheaper, and they pay less income tax because they don’t live in Hamtramck. My question would be why would you want to live in Hamtramck?

    2) I’m not sure your comments about diversity are really true. I know for a fact there is at least two Mexicans, an Asain, and a whole bunch of other nationalities that work there. The fact is both the Fire and Police Department hire off of “lists” The candidates have to pass a test then are ranked on the list based on the score you get. The higher the score the better chance you have to get hired. Why should any race get preferential treatment?

    3) It’s possible that Firefighters or Police for that matter earn more than the “national poverty line” because they have a skilled trade. These people put themselves through years of schooling to get the highly competitive jobs they have. Not to mention how dangerous public safety jobs are especially in the “inner city”. Firefighters and Police in Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck make less than public safety workers in the suburbs and do a lot more work. We should be considered lucky to retain these people as employees. These aren’t jobs that anybody can just walk into and go to a weeks worth of nighttime classes and be considered a professional. If I were a Hamtramck Fireman or Policeman I would be running for the hills because it’s apparent the city doesn’t have your backs and they certainly don’t car about the best interests of the citizens.

  10. Random Resident

    March 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I hope that the publisher of this paper follows up on the 3 simple questions I posed above. 1.How many Hamtramck Firefighters live in Hamtramck? 2. Is the department all white men? 3. Is it MORAL to have a small group of white men fleece a multicultural society living in total poverty?


    I would like to also pose a 4th simple question.

    I have a unique perspective on this topic. I live in Hamtramck, I have epilepsy and struggle with grand mal seizures. I also happen to have my state certifications in Fire Science I and Fire Science II. I graduated at the top of my class from Schoolcraft fire academy. I also happen to be a neighbor of Abid Kahn. I also just happen to have my EMT and Paramedic certifications. Seizures robbed me of my ability to work as a firefighter. Seizures almost robbed Abid Khan of his life and the Hamtramck fire departments negligence nearly killed Abid Kahn. I know what that’s like as I have gone status twice in my life and lived through it. Luckily I was not reliant on the Hamtramck idiotic department to pick me up and take me to the hospital.

    My fourth question is simple. I want the FIRE CHIEF and his cronies at the department, all of them, to work together and create a “I SURVIVED THE HAMTRAMCK FIRE DEPARTMENTS NEGLIGENCE AWARD”.

    The obvious first recipient of this award should be our HAMTRAMCK HOME TOWN HERO ABID KAHN, Abids a great kid. I love my multicultural community of neighbors.

    I think the chief himself should bestow this award at a school function in front of all of Abids school friends. I am willing to offer my volunteerism (which is apparently a foreign concept at the local firehouse) to work with this publication to make this award a reality. So my fourth question is how can we make that happen?

    This is not a joke. Real residents are suffering. Put yourself in Abids shoes. I think the boy is a HERO and deserves an award. MY HERO IS ABID KAHN.

  11. youandme

    March 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    To: Random Resident

    So you’re saying because most residents in the city live at or below the poverty line they deserve lesser services. The people are already struggling so they should have to struggle for services every human deserves? The City is at a critical point. We reduce our services to that of highland park and Detroit and not only will the people be eating one meal a day its just a matter of time before they are neglected by their own city and become a victim of crime or burn to death in their own homes do to the lack of response. If there was an easy solution to the problem it would have been done long ago. But to reduce services to an area that already is struggling is not the answer. If anything this area needs more services. The question should be why areas like some suburban communities that have hardly any crime and no fires are getting the highest quality services and the state of MI is watching the people of the inner City dyeing in the streets and burning up in their own homes but for some reason think that lesser services is going to reduce that from happening. The people at the state level who are making the decision for this area do not care if you die in a house fire, gunned down in the streets, or if your business is destroyed because none of them live, work, our have business down here. Our city leader ship should be proud of our city services and trying to promote them to our neighbors as the best in the area. It is easily proven by walking our boarders. There is a good reason our side looks so much better then the other. The other sides services failed them, and if you’re OK with your neighborhood looking like that in five years then go ahead and bring in Highland park or Detroit and kiss Hamtramck good by because thats just what our Governor wants. You pay for what you get.

  12. youandme

    March 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    OK random resident, stop being part of the problem and start working towards a solution. May be stop by your police and fire department with all your useful information and have a conversation with them. Or just wait for the state to take over like our city leadership is and see what our neighborhoods look like in a few years.

  13. Ogie Ogilthorpe

    March 16, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Sounds like Random Resident has personal problems/issues with the Hamtramck Fire Department. Also sounds like he is a little close minded. For someone who wants the HFD to be multicultural and diverse, he certainly has a problem with “white guys”, as he put it. The fire department has 2 firefighters of Hispanic descent, 1 of asian descent, and multiple other nationalities.
    What does it matter who provides emergency services to the citizens, as long as they are qualified for the job(which they are)? Your comment about volunteerism being a foreign word at the fire department, leads me to believe you do not know what you are talking about. They help out tremendously in the community, be it collecting money for Muscular Distrophy, helping out individual residents, or Take back the night.
    I believe you have a misunderstanding of what morals are also. Your city officals hired the “white guys” to serve the city of Hamtramck. They didn’t force their way in, they applied and were hired, just like every other city in the U.S does hiring. You can’t just give the job to random people off the street.
    The only negligence, is by the city of Hamtramck for not allowing the fire department’s ambulance to become ALS.

  14. Carmen A. Cowell

    April 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I think all these firemen know exactly what to do during emergency cases. They were properly trained and possessed the skills required of them act upon these kinds of situations. As for the ambulance services, it’s time officials do something about it to improve it’s services.

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