2017-10-12 / Views

Emergency care has come a long way

Consider the plight of fire protection and ambulance service on the Leelanau Peninsula over the course of two generations.

Twenty years ago it was volunteers who sprung out of bed when an emergency was called in. They had to drive to a fire hall that they probably helped build to start the run.

Before that it might have been Bob Martinson, the World War II veteran who represents the second of three generations to own Martinson Funeral Home in Suttons Bay. His phone would ring at all hours of the morning. He’d quickly change and head out with a hearse-turned-ambulance toward the site of an accident or medical emergency.

Often the directions for early first responders were foggy at best. Some addresses were stuck on mailboxes, others weren’t. The green, reflective address markers promoted by the Knights of Columbus and now required by the county of new construction were non-existent.

Radio signals faded in and out from the county Jail in Leland, which likely had one deputy on duty who also had to watch over prisoners.

Mr. Martinson was a skilled, licensed mortician — but he’s the first to say he was no doctor. And neither were firemen who responded. Medical treatment started after a patient was driven to Munson in Traverse City or Leelanau Memorial Hospital in Northport. From some parts of the Peninsula that required quite a drive.

Now today.

Staffed and trained emergency responders are stationed across the county. They are ready to speed off in modern and well-equipped ambulances 24 hours a day.

Chances are a paramedic will be responding — someone trained to provide medications and procedures that just may keep a patient alive on the way to Munson Medical Center.

Radios receive signals from an advanced digital communication system that started communicating with first responders in August.

Of course, county property owners are paying for such advances in the form of higher and designed property taxes.

Our bet, though, is that most residents feel they’re getting their money’s worth.

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