AUBURN — Fire Chief Frank Roma is urging councilors to take another look at establishing a city rescue and ambulance service.

“We are currently operating a hybrid system, where we provide advanced life support and first response service,” Roma told councilors Tuesday at a workshop meeting. “We respond first and a back-up, third party ambulance service provides transport.”

The city currently sends EMT-trained fire personnel in a rescue vehicle to most emergencies. City EMTs stabilize patients, and then hand them off to United Ambulance for transport. United Ambulance pays the city a $100,000 annual fee to provide the service. The city doesn’t get any other financial gain from the situation, since insurance companies don’t reimburse for emergency response — just transport.

Councilors considered a similar idea in 2008, that would have replaced one emergency rescue vehicle with a leased ambulance. The city could then have billed insurance companies for the medical transport, making back some of the money it spent. Overall, the service was expected to bring in $193,000 for the city.

Councilors backed off of that plan a year later, in favor of charging United Ambulance the fee.

“I think the information provided by the Fire Department at that time was sound,” Roma said. “I don’t know where the disconnect came between the recommendations and the council’s actions at the time.”


Councilor Robert Hayes said he was reluctant to bring the issue up again.

“If we are going to do this, it has to be revenue neutral,” Hayes said. “That raises the question about where our revenue is. I would not support this until I have some questions answered.”

Most other councilors said it was worth reviewing. They agreed to consider a June 3 resolution allowing Roma and the Fire Department to research the idea.

“I would like to see us move forward with this,” Councilor Leroy Walker said. “I’m hoping we won’t lose money here. I hope that in the long run we end up making money and I believe in the long run we will.”

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