Beacon ending 911 service; Integrity Care says it will step up
By Daily News staff
IRON MOUNTAIN — Integrity Care EMS said Thursday it’s prepared to grow to meet the needs of the Dickinson County area after Beacon Ambulance announced it would end 911 service effective 8 a.m. today.
Beacon has cited difficulties related to the dual roles of being a primary 911 responder while handling a share of Dickinson County Healthcare System’s patient transfers. Last week, Beacon decided to no longer transfer patients outside a 30-mile radius of DCHS.
“After further, thorough financial review and careful consideration, it was determined this untenable situation had continued for too long to be recoverable under current conditions,” a Beacon spokesman said Thursday. “We are hopeful these circumstances will change and afford us the opportunity to reconsider this outcome.”
Beacon, of Kingsford, has served the community 28 years, while Integrity Care launched operations in Iron Mountain in September 2016.
“We initially began providing these vital services with three ambulances as well as a passionate and dedicated staff,” said Jessica Smith, Integrity president-CEO. “Our organization has since grown to include a six-ambulance fleet and an intercept unit, as well as several additional EMTs and paramedics to meet our staffing goals. As the needs of the community grow, so will Integrity Care EMS to meet those needs.”
Beacon, with corporate headquarters in Hurley, Wis., expressed thanks for the support and well wishes it has received in recent days.
“Going forward with the community, and our response partner agencies, foremost in our minds — please remember to dial 911 for your emergency needs to ensure the most expedient assistance,” a spokesman said.
Smith also thanked the community for its support. “We respect the decision of Beacon Ambulance Service to discontinue their services and we wish their employees well during this difficult time,” she said.
According to Joe Rizzo, DCHS director of public relations, Integrity Care last week pledged additional support to provide transfer services for DCHS.
“Integrity has historically shared the patient transfer duties with Beacon and, with a six-ambulance fleet, they are well-equipped to care for all of our patient’s needs,” Rizzo said in an Oct. 29 statement. “Neighboring health systems have also offered support should we need it. We respect Beacon’s business decision as we ourselves know that changes to daily operations are sometimes necessary,” he added.
Sagola Township Area Rescue, or STAR, Ambulance Service also issued a statement, assuring residents in Sagola Township and the surrounding area it will continue to provide service.