By Nick Barnowski
LANSING TOWNSHIP — No matter the situation, Shane Brink is ready to help.
The 27-year-old is one of 14 Lansing Township firefighters who also double as paramedics, offering their services in both a fire truck and ambulance when trouble calls.
“We have to be careful and our training comes into play big time there,” said Brink, who joined the fire department nine months ago.
In order to become a Lansing Township firefighter, one must also possess a current Michigan paramedic license, a requirement that sets the township apart.
“I think it’s unique among any township probably within the country,” said Kathleen Rodgers, Lansing Township supervisor.
“Lansing Township, at the fire department’s urging and our firefighters’, decided to provide the advanced life support transporting ambulances to residents of the township,” Captain Mike Kaloz said. “This was as opposed to utilizing the private service we were using at the time so we could provide a better service to our residents.”
The requirement dates back to the late 1990s when Lansing Township analyzed first responder calls in the area. Rodgers, who then served on the Public Safety Committee, said the township found its fire service spent much of its time attending to medical calls.
“It has turned out to be a very important part of what Lansing Township does, not only for Lansing Township, but for the region,” Rodgers said.
Kaloz began his career around when the decision was made, and said it has been nothing but positive. He said nearly half a million dollars is brought in per year in revenue to the department from the ambulances.
“It was huge economically,” said Kaloz, who has been with the fire department for 23 years. “Also, in my opinion, if it wasn’t for these ambulances, we wouldn’t have as many full-time firefighters as we do right now.”
The township’s emphasis on public safety has allowed it to help the Lansing area despite its population of just more than 8,000 people.
“That’s definitely good that they support us because that’s where we get the funds for our equipment and protective equipment,” Brink, a Laingsburg native, said. “It helps us be the best that we can be.”
Rodgers said that in the past three years, Lansing Township has answered over 150 ambulance calls in the City of Lansing. In that same time period, the City of Lansing has assisted Lansing Township on five calls.
Lansing Township possesses four ambulances, enough to ensure that proper personnel reach an emergency. Brink said that his training for both occupations is used fairly regularly, particularly at car crashes where the individual and vehicle must be attended.
“The advantage of that for Lansing Township is that now we can respond not just with a basic ambulance, but ambulances that are stocked to almost be an emergency hospital room,” Rodgers said. “If an ambulance goes out, there are two people on that ambulance and we have two paramedics on site.”
According to the Lansing Township Fire Department call history, there were 417 fire and 1,566 ambulance calls in 2012. The firefighters’ training has allowed the department to respond in an average of four minutes, which Rodgers said is “probably the best response time in the area.”
“We have a very highly skilled fire department and it works very well for us,” Rodgers said.