Chris Bennett does a lot as an emergency medical technician with the Mayville Area Ambulance Service, but once in a while is perfectly happy to make a patient a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The reason, Bennett said, is that it’s satisfying for him to help someone realize the effects of eating after he or she felt so bad from low blood sugar, they dialed 911. He said that extra little bit of attention is the kind of thing that sets Mayville Area Ambulance Service (MAAS) apart from others — and is largely the reason it celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2016.
“You see a lot of people often, so you build a really good reputation with people,” said Bennett. “I’ll get these patients I’ve never met before, they know my parents, they know my grandparents — they know who I am before I even walk in the door.”
MAAS has always been about community.
In 1976, it started with donations and grants from those who felt the area needed an actual ambulance service instead of relying on funeral parlors in Caro, Vassar, Marlette, or Lapeer.
Today, MAAS is licensed by the state of Michigan Department of Community Health as a Life Support Agency (LSA), at the Basic Life Support (BLS) level, meaning responders can’t administer IVs or pass drugs other than aspirin or an epinephrine autoinjector (commonly known by the brand name EpiPen).
MAAS is contracted to serve 134 square miles mostly in Tuscola County — an area consisting of the village of Mayville, and the townships of Fremont, Dayton, and Rich (Lapeer County). A representative of each community sits on the four-person MAAS board of directors.
The number of “patient encounters” has more than doubled in the last 20 years — a time of particular change for MAAS that’s included purchase of new ambulance vehicles, the organization’s first Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in 1998, new radio and paging systems around 2000, and much more.
It’s all been necessary, too, said James Welke, executive director, MAAS, due to a considerable increase in demand for service.
“When we first started, if we had 20 runs a month, that was a lot,” Welke said. “Now were up to at least 50 runs a month.” (Read more)
(This story appeared in the Dec. 3, 2016 print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can be read in its entirety online here.)