City to seek contract, other EMS alternatives
Action taken by the Edwardsville City Council last month has created some questions about the future of ambulance service in the city.
At its Oct. 8 meeting, three of five council members voted not to approve a contract with private firm AMR to provide ambulance services beginning Jan. 1, 2013. The city will continue to use the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department as its ambulance service, but city officials say they must either create a new contract or seek another option for a service provider.
Edwardsville created an interlocal agreement with the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department for ambulance services in 2004, but that agreement expired in mid-2010. With no official contract since then, the fire department has increased its charges for ambulance services from $75,000 for 2010 to mid-2011, to $150,000 for the following year, and now to $225,000 through June 2013.
Mike Webb, city manager, said the city will continue to utilize the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department at the rate provided but will ask the department for a long-term solution in the form of a contracted rate before city staff goes back to the council.
“We would certainly like to have something that has some stability in it from a budgeting standpoint,” Webb said.
The city may also look at the costs for a city-provided service like the one in Bonner, which utilitizes volunteers and would require the city to purchase an ambulance, in addition to partnerships other with public services or private firms.
A contract with AMR would have increased the cost of ambulance services, but when council members heard a presentation from the firm at a meeting in September, they seemed to think the cost was worth it.
The $245,000 contract would be $20,000 more than if the city were to continue receiving ambulance services through the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department.
Mark Mathies, chief of police and fire services for the city, told the council in September that he supported AMR because the company would house its ambulance at the city fire station, meaning decreased response times and greater lifesaving potential. He said the city’s firefighters and other city staff also could take part in training that AMR would provide its ambulance employees.
AMR asked for a city subsidy of $245,000 in the first year, with a 3 percent increase each year through year five. The subsidy was calculated using a mileage fee of $14 plus a base rate of $848.47 for each call response, based on the number of ambulance responses the KCKFD had reported in 2011 in Edwardsville. The ambulance would have featured both AMR and city of Edwardsville branding.
But at the council’s Oct. 8 meeting, several members of the KCKFD attended to protest the decision, six of them Edwardsville residents who spoke against AMR. In the end, only council members Chuck Adams and John Eickhoff voted to support the AMR contract.
Gary Carpenter, a resident who attended the Oct. 8 meeting, said he thought is was inappropriate for Councilman Mark Bishop to discuss the fact that he was a KCKFD battalion chief in questions he posed to AMR representatives.
But Webb said that because the vote was on the AMR contract, not KCKFD’s contract, there was no conflict of interest under state statute.
“All I can say is that with AMR, we would have had a contract on how business is done and that would help with future budgeting for Edwardsville,” Eickhoff said following the meeting. “AMR is qualified to be a service to us. The KCK fire department does do a great job, but we have nothing in writing on how much it would cost residents, we actually have nothing in writing with them at all.”
The Chieftain requested comment from other Edwardsville council members but received no response.