Montcalm Technical Rescue Team still struggling

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 11:39 am on Tuesday, December 20, 2011

STANTON — An uncertain future continues to loom for the Montcalm Technical Rescue Team (MTRT).

The MTRT was created in 1996 to perform confined space rescues in Montcalm County. Duties expanded in 2001 to include high angle rescue, trench rescue, search and rescue, collapse rescue, water rescue, assisting the sheriff’s Dive Team, terrorism response and assisting in weather emergencies.

Due to the specialized nature of the MTRT, having dedicated staff for responses is not financially possible in Montcalm County, according to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director David Feldpausch, who heads up the five-member team.

“The types of calls that these specialized teams respond to are very rare in a rural setting,” Feldpausch said. “Everywhere else that I am aware of, these functions are performed by only large fire departments with full-time staff. Even then, many of them only have partial teams and capabilities.”

Earlier this month, the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners asked Feldpausch to explore new options for the MTRT’s direction — specifically whether a local fire department would be willing to help. Firefighters would require specialized training.

“I think maybe if we gave them all that equipment it would give them some incentive,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Q. Carr. “It’s just an option. I don’t see us having any other good ones though. We don’t have enough EMS staff to train and work on this with the time constraints.”

The MTRT has been funded and operated from the Emergency Medical Services Department since its creation.
Feldpausch currently has $31,000 budgeted for the team. He’s not sure how much the team costs to operate because its has been mostly inactive for the last several months.

“I do not want anyone else to take over the team, but want some additional direction on the future of the team so I can work toward rebuilding a team that we can all agree on and one that is right for Montcalm County,” Feldpausch said.

Commissioners previously discussed the MTRT’s future last May, along with the possibility of firefighters getting involved, but no action was taken.

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