HUBBARD — The Eagle Joint Fire District has new personnel and equipment and, effective June 1, is providing 24-hour ambulance and fire service for the first time to the city and township of Hubbard.
Fire Chief Ron Stanish and George Brown, who served as acting chief until July 1, when Stanish was on sick leave, said the fire district had been busy for the past two months and a half since he had provided paramedic services. He noted on the first day, June 1, several calls were reported.
Stanish said the fire district responded to 191 calls in July and 6 to 10 calls for mutual aid. Officials said calls from the district were 80% emergency medical services and 20% fire/rescue.
Brown said the district took over after Lane LifeTrans informed it in April that it would no longer be able to provide service.
“They provided an ambulance service in May. We had contacted all the private companies and they were in the same boat as Lane. They would have provided the service, but they didn’t have the staff. They couldn’t over-commit. Lane was already attached to Niles, Girard, Boardman and Austintown. We were the last of this group. No private company we called had the capability to provide the service to us,” Brown said.
20 YEARS OF EFFORT
Fire Captain John Bizub said what the department is now proposing has been a goal and an expectation for years.
“We have been in talks for 20 years. For this to happen, everyone is thrilled – residents, police and officials – to have our own ambulance service,” he said.
The district serves 21,000 people in the Town of Hubbard and Township of Hubbard in an area of 25 square miles. Brown said the population is larger than Howland at 19,500 and Liberty at 18,000.
All the equipment is now in place, including two ambulances with beds, life monitors and iPads.
Brown said in June that 32 people were on staff, which now amounts to up to 44 employees in the fire district. Officials said three people are on duty Monday through Friday and two per weekend shift.
“Ideally for us would be to have four people 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Stanish said.
Stanish said the district is working to recruit three over the weekend and gradually increase to four, if possible. He said each shift is usually made up of one paramedic and two basic medical staff.
Brown said the fire district usually gets back-to-back calls — so he wants to make sure enough people are on duty.
“The big problem with these calls is that often what happens is like a fall and we get there and that’s a stroke. Callers may not know exactly what the health issue is,” said Brown.
The department began renting an ambulance from Mecca Township for 30 days, then the district purchased two used ambulances from Penn Care in Niles.
“We’re okay with what we’ve been able to achieve at this point,” Brown said.
Stanish said money has been set aside for equipment and other needed items, including equipment from Cleveland University Hospitals. He waits on the radios for the squads.
Brown said the district received donations and held fundraisers, reaching $15,000. He also said they were able to borrow some items from other departments that had surplus equipment.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Chef Brown who achieved the impossible in two and a half months. We had the funding there, but he was able to pull the pieces together,” Stanish said.
Brown said all departments were struggling to find and keep staff as various townships and cities increased salaries.
Stanish said vacations and people working at other jobs can be challenging for scheduling staff, especially during the summer months.
“It’s hard to get people to fill in because no one has the free time,” Brown said.
Stanish has previously said that when there aren’t enough staff and Lane isn’t available, the district has to rely on help from Liberty and other nearby departments.
He said mutual aid was also available for other departments.
“We are always trying to get more staff. We are lucky that for whoever leaves, there is always another candidate,” Stanish said.
Brown said he notices people staying in places where they are respected and treated fairly and enjoy the work environment.
“We have a good environment here,” he said.
The Eagle Joint Fire District Board oversees and manages the district, similar to how a city or township oversees a fire department.
City and township officials said they were pleased with the district’s success.
“With everyone working together as a team focused on one goal, we have been able to achieve what was once just a dream,” Mayor Ben Kyle said. “Discussions have taken place for many years to have a fire district with its own ambulance service to serve both the city and the township, and now it is a reality. I acknowledge the hard work of everyone who participated. It’s something we can all be proud of for years to come.
Hubbard Administrator Rick Hernandez added, “It was necessary to be able to do this. We were able to accomplish a lot this year by getting emergency and ambulance services. »
Hernandez said the fire board is solvent for the remainder of 2022 and plans to see what can be done in 2023.
The fire board is looking to recruit a part-time administrative assistant and board clerk, with the retirement of John Morris.
Hernandez said he would like to see county commissioners consider countywide ambulance service.