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No ambulances at football games prompts questions

When a Flint Beecher football player went down with a neck injury last Friday night at Lake Fenton High School, Beecher coach and athletic director Courtney Hawkins said it took way too long for the ambulance to show up.

"Hopefully everyone learns from this, and there will be a better approach when a call comes in from a school saying we have an athlete down," said Hawkins.

And as TV5 did some digging, it was learned the responding ambulance was five miles away when they received the call.  It may be surprising for some who have played or watched high school football to hear there wasn't an ambulance at the field. But what you might not know is there's no rule that says there has to be.

"We leave it up to our schools, firmly believing they're going to do what's best, and the most, with what resources they have and what's available at the time," said Geoff Kimmerly, spokesman for the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Kimmerly said it has never been a mandate to have an ambulance at the game. So what has changed? According to some athletic directors from the area, in many instances, the ambulances seen at the games formerly were hometown community-funded services parked as a courtesy and free of charge. Many of those services have gone away, and privatized ambulance businesses have taken over. Joseph Karlichek is the chief operating officer at Stat EMS. He said he doesn't have the resources to park a rig at every game. If the schools want one, all they have to do is ask and be prepared to pay for it.

"It's really, it's their choice. It's the school's choice. And I think it's important for schools to value having medical teams on the football field," said Karlichek.

Karlichek said Stat EMS charges $60 an hour for an ambulance to sit at a game.

"Really, it's just there to cover our costs, to have that paramedic or EMT on that field for those three or four hours, and we think that's pretty fair considering referees are more than that charge or that customary charge," said Karlichek.

Another ambulance service told TV5 they charge $130 an hour. It's a fee that Hawkins said schools just can't afford.

"For us to be able to pay whatever the rate is, it won't happen here," said Hawkins.

The ambulance companies TV5 spoke with said when they are not on a run, they do stage near or at the football game but leave if an emergency call elsewhere is made.

Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

No ambulances at football games prompts questions

Monday, October 7 2013, 02:00 PM EDT

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