SIDNEY — The emergency ambulance services of the Sidney Fire Department were officially declined when a contract submitted by the city of Sidney was rejected by the Houston Ambulance District board, Fire Chief Chad Hollinger told Sidney City Council at its workshop meeting Monday.
City Council adopted legislation Dec. 14 for the city to enter into a contract with the Houston Ambulance District to provide emergency ambulance service to the Houston Ambulance District for six months to help with its need due to lack of staffing. Hollinger had recommended to not extend Sidney’s mutual aid agreement with Houston past Dec. 31, 2020. The agreement was no longer effective because of Houston’s significant staffing issues and therefore its inability to reciprocate mutual aid to Sidney.
Hollinger said he expected Houston to accept the contract submitted, but it was declined because the Houston Ambulance District had accepted a contract of a private ambulance company to provide service to its area. The Houston Ambulance District’s board met on Dec. 22, 2020, to review the contract submitted by the city of Sidney.
The private ambulance contractor now covering the Houston service area asked Hollinger if Sidney would enter into a mutual aid agreement with them. Hollinger and City Manger Mark Cundiff strongly advised City Council against entering into such a contract because they are uncertain if Sidney would actually receive mutual aid. Also, they don’t think tax payers’ dollars would be rightfully spent subsidizing a private medical company for mutual aid given. Cundiff said he understands the private medical company has a presence at the Fair Haven Shelby County Home and often responds to 911 calls to transport people to doctor appointments.
Although the Houston Ambulance District turned down the contract with Sidney, Hollinger said only 12 hours into Jan. 1, they reached out to the Sidney Department of Fire and Emergency Services for help on a call. Unless that call for help was life-threatening, Hollinger said he told Sidney firefighters they did not have to respond, and they did not. Hollinger intends to work with the Sidney Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office on a plan moving forward so dispatchers are not caught in the middle of such calls in the future.
Mayor Mike Barhorst told Hollinger, on behalf of council, they support him on his position and thanked him for his leadership at the department.
In other business, Cundiff reviewed the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission Agenda for Monday, Jan. 19, 2021, and prospective City Council agenda items for the next 30 days.
During council comments, Barhorst informed all that:
• DP&L intends to file for an increase of its rates with the public utilities commission for an average increase of $11.26 per month for customers. It would be the first rate increase since 2015.
• Hearing no objections, council members would remain in their committee assignments through Nov. 30, 2021.
• New thermometers were installed at City Hall and council members were advised to begin using the new thermometers prior to meetings to test their temperature.
• A small group of people will be meeting soon to begin working on the next phase of the Canal Feeder Trail. This 2.25 mile stretch of the trail is outside of Sidney city limits and under the control of Shelby County. The group intends to again apply for state of Ohio capital budget funding in 2022 for the remaining portion of the trail to the Miami County line.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.