BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – As local communities wrestle with providing quality emergency medical services across Mahoning County, they heard from a potentially unifying voice.
Monday morning, local fire chiefs, trustees and others heard from Congressman Bill Johnson (R).
“I would want to look at every option and I think they oughta look at regionalization,” Johnson said.
The congressman’s suggestion comes as two local departments, Boardman and Canfield, have been talking about a possible merger for weeks. Boardman is one of only a handful of departments not offering at least some sort of EMS, and the chief says he’d like to see that changed.
“I wanna be part of something that propels this area forward. I think it’s time we really look at things and put our egos aside and do the right thing,” said Boardman Fire Chief Mark Pitzer.
Retired YSU Professor Joe Mistovich was also in the audience and has studied regionalization. He says there have always been roadblocks.
“I think that’s what we need, is somebody from the outside to come in and say, let’s everybody come to the table. Let’s seriously talk about this,” Mistovich said.
Another crucial issue for those in attendance — the levels for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for EMS, something the congressman admits will be a very big hurdle to cross over.
Johnson told the group that making changes to the federal system would take time the local communities may not have. Still, he urged the group to reach out to state lawmakers to see what can be done in Columbus.
“I’m gonna see the governor this evening and I’m gonna whisper in his ear and mention this as well,” Johnson said.
In the meantime, the possible merger between Boardman and Canfield could start taking shape by this time next year.