Belpre mayor Mike Lorentz talks about next steps after EMS, Inc. termination

WTAP News @ 5 - Belpre mayor Mike Lorentz talks about next steps after EMS, Inc. termination
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:03 PM EST
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BELPRE, Ohio (WTAP) - As of January 12th, the city of Belpre terminated its contract with Belpre Fire Department, Inc. group after numerous violations by the emergency medical services group.

On Thursday, the city of Belpre held a special session to discuss nullifying and voiding the contract with Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. And after being in agreement for the group’s EMS work since October 1, 2021, the city is moving on after six different violations.

The two most serious violations being that EMS, Inc. is not an Ohio licensed ambulatory service and failing to obtain a license from the Ohio State Pharmaceutical Board for the drugs located in the EMS, Inc. vehicles and Stone Road location.

Both of these violations can place the city of Belpre in a situation where it can be liable if any accident occurs during the transport of a Belpre resident by EMS, Inc. And because of this, Belpre mayor Mike Lorentz says the city is going to do what it can to fix this issue.

“There are rules to follow. There are licenses to be had. There are permits to be had. And none of that was in place and we could not continue in that fashion,” says Lorentz. “So, when we met last week and discussed it and so forth and found all these things to be true, we had no other choice but to do away with the contract at midnight on Thursday night. So, we are working. Through the weekend I got numerous calls. I come here this morning, the team is already in the conference room working on it. We’re doing absolutely everything in our power to make this as seamless as we can.”

Lorentz says that until the city finds new licensed paramedics, it will use mutual aid partners like WVU Medicine at Camden Clark, St. Joseph’s and Little Hocking. The mayor says the city is going to hire Belpre volunteer firefighters as city employees in the interim to help.

Other violations that the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. violated are:

  1. EMS, Inc. has removed licensed drugs from the city of Belpre vehicles #490 and #491 without the permission of the city and used them in the EMS, Inc. owned vehicles.
  2. Belpre vehicles have continued to be used for the “transport” of patients in non-emergency circumstances. The Belpre and EMS vehicles were to only be used as backup vehicles when EMS, Inc. owned vehicles were on other emergency calls.
  3. EMS, Inc. removed regulated drugs from the Belpre owned Fire Department #1 building without permission. Said drugs were transferred to EMS, Inc.’s building which is not at the address where the pharmaceuticals were required to be stored.
  4. The Belpre City Safety Service Director, Connie Hoblitzell requested financial information from EMS, Inc. in August, 2022. She has followed up and EMS, Inc. has ignored her requests and willfully refused to supply these records.