Mayor's Office

City of Flint prepares to launch dedicated ambulance service for Flint residents

FLINT, Mich.—The City of Flint Fire Department is preparing to launch an ambulance service to reduce emergency response times for Flint residents.
A countywide shortage of ambulances and EMS personnel has resulted in long wait times for Flint residents who need emergency medical transport. “Crisis mode” has become routine for Genesee County 911; often only one ambulance is available to serve all 600-square-miles of Genesee County.

“It’s time for our community to have a level of self-determination when it comes to emergency medical response,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “We cannot continue to totally rely on private ambulance services that have no obligation and sometimes even lack the capacity to station ambulances in the city of Flint. Flint residents are experiencing unacceptable wait times in their most vulnerable medical moments, and they must have access to lifesaving medical attention and transport in an emergency, no matter what part of the city they live in. It is absolutely critical that we have a dedicated City of Flint ambulance service, and our Fire Department has the expertise and capacity to accomplish this.”

Mayor Neeley proposed and the Flint City Council unanimously approved the purchase of an ambulance on March 25—the first step in establishing a city ambulance service.

The ambulance has arrived and been outfitted with equipment at the Joe Davis Jr. Fire Department Headquarters. But before it can be put into service, applications to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and Genesee County Medical Control Authority must be approved and inspections passed.

Flint has applied to the county Medical Control Authority to expand its licensure from medical first responder to include transport, and expects the MCA board to consider the application in June.

Meanwhile, Flint Fire Chief Theron Wiggins is preparing personnel to hit the ground running. All City of Flint firefighters are also certified EMTs and some firefighter/EMTs have elected to complete additional training for pediatrics and trauma. All Flint Firefighter/EMTs will be qualified to both drive the ambulance and provide life support.

The City of Flint ambulance will only respond to calls within the Flint city limits. It’s expected to have a profound impact in a dire situation.

“There have been times when our crews waited for 30 minutes to an hour for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of an emergency,” Flint Fire Chief Theron Wiggins said. “This is an unacceptable situation, and I know this ambulance service is going to save lives.”

The approximately $225,000 purchase of the City of Flint’s first ambulance is funded by opioid settlement dollars rather than tax dollars.

“Flint is experiencing high rates of opioid overdose, and while Flint police officers and firefighters routinely administer Narcan to overdose victims, they cannot currently transport them to the hospital,” Mayor Neeley said. “Our emergency responders have seen these long wait-times for ambulances firsthand and have witnessed the toll it takes. The City of Flint is using opioid settlement funds for this initial investment in a transport unit, so this is at no additional cost to taxpayers.”