Fire Department staffing is a priority for city government

Mayor of Riverview, Michigan - Andrew Swift

FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR

Andrew Swift 
– RIVERVIEW REGISTER

First let me say “Happy New Year” to all my fellow residents. My wish for all of us is that we work together to improve our city, schools, churches and lives.

This year as last, promises to be a busy one with many very important items on the agenda.  For our schools we have a bond program in full swing to repair and improve every school to make them safer and more efficient. 

On the city side one of our top priorities is addressing the staffing issue at our fire department.  

Our model of staffing the full-time department with part-time employees has worked well for many years. Basically what we have is 24-hour-a-day coverage staffed by part-time employees. Most, if not all fire department employees have either a full-time or part-time job somewhere else. Like most part-time jobs benefits are not included.   

Our Fire/EMS division is composed of two levels of firefighters; Specialist and Paramedic. The main difference between Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) is not only the equipment that must be on each ambulance, but the service we can provide of residents as an ALS service provider. In many cases, an ALS unit can perform life saving measures, administer drugs and stabilize patients prior to transport. 

BLS units can provide oxygen and basic care prior to transportation to a medical facility. Advanced Life Support provides a higher level of expertise, training and knowledge, thus providing a higher degree of service to the community. We typically provide two ALS ambulances.

Over the past several months Riverview has experienced some times when we had a Specialist but not a paramedic on staff. When that happens we contract with a private ambulance company to respond to the 911 calls.  

The private ambulance is an Advanced Life Support rig and stationed outside the fire department so there is no increase in response time.

Riverview is not unique in the struggle to recruit fire fighters and or paramedics. There is a nationwide problem with the interest in public safety.

Our council is exploring options in addressing the issue which is a very complex one.  It’s not an issue you can just throw money at and it goes away.  

One option is changing staff from part-time to full-time while maintaining our ALS certification.  

Another option is going to a private ambulance service and we staff the department with fire fighters only.  

The reality is that the fix may be a mixture of these options or some new ideas that come up in our meeting scheduled for early this month.

You can be assured that we will always have coverage until we work through this issue.

Also on the agenda for this year are improvements at The Riverview Land Preserve. We are exploring different materials used for covering the waste. For years we’ve used dirt for the daily cover. Our engineers are looking into using other materials that would be more efficient in odor control and space consumption.

We are also still working on marketing the excess methane gas that Riverview Energy Systems doesn’t require to power the turbines generating electricity.  The landfill methane continues to power several city vehicles and a few retail customers.

In progress now are improvements to our golf course and clubhouse. Early spring should find much needed improvements to our cart paths and the exterior of the club. 

Last November we introduced a new indoor golf practice facility with some pretty hi-tech golf swing analysis equipment. If you’re a golfer I suggest you check it out and maybe improve your game before the season starts. Look for some unique golf outings this year and some creative ideas on the use of the course and golf practice facility.

To finish up this article I would like to say how excited I am with having new members on council. Having new members forces us to look at issues with a more critical eye. 

Welcome Councilwoman Oneil and Councilman Norton.

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