AUBURN — The latest proposal for a city ambulance service would guarantee at least two ambulances would be ready to respond to medical emergencies, according to fire Chief Frank Roma.

Roma and his staff presented a report to city councilors during their Monday workshop meeting that outlined four potential models for a city ambulance service. They ranged from staffing two new city ambulances with existing staff to hiring four new dedicated Fire Department employees to staff the vehicles.

“This has nothing to do with the quality of service we receive,” Roma said. “We don’t have any problems there, but our current model cannot guarantee an ambulance is always available to the city of Auburn. This would guarantee two. That’s the service enhancement, the service-level increase councilors were asking about.”

Councilors accepted the report and asked some questions but said they needed time to consider it. Mayor Jonathan LaBonte asked Roma and City Manager Clint Deschene to review the report and come back with a more specific recommendation.

“There are four pieces now and if staff should come back with a single recommendation, we could see if this is what councilors are looking for,” LaBonte said. “We should have that one recommendation and iron-clad numbers, and I think a discussion and understanding with United (Ambulance) so that we have a robust understanding of their concerns.”

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.

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According to the Fire Department’s report Monday, the city would be able to bill MaineCare, Medicare and private medical insurance for more than $1.5 million annually for emergency transport as well as another $58,000 from patients paying their own medical costs.

Roma recommended the city purchase two new ambulances that would be put in service, one at the Center Street station near Shaw’s Supermarket and a second at Minot Avenue’s Central Fire Station. Those would cost the city $466,218, according to Monday’s report.

A 2010 ambulance would be purchased for $146,430 and used as a backup.

The service would cost the city between $837,600 and $1.05 million annually, giving the city between $362,000 and $149,872 in new net revenue.

Deschene on Monday recommended any new money be earmarked toward future Fire Department equipment purchases.

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