AUBURN — Fire Chief Frank Roma said Fire Department emergency medical service requests increased from 2,313 before the city had an ambulance service to 3,438 after the service started in mid-October 2014.

“The program has met both projections we had when we started, as far as service delivery and projected revenues,” Roma said.

Roma presented a breakdown of EMS service requests and department budgets to city councilors during Monday’s workshop.

Before October 2014, Auburn sent medically-trained firefighters to most reported medical emergencies in the city. Those crews would stabilize patients and transfer them to United Ambulance if they needed to be taken to the hospital.

The city could not bill insurance companies for the costs of responding because city crews did not transport the patients. Insurers decline payment unless patients are transported. Instead, United Ambulance paid the city $100,000 per year to provide ambulance service.

Auburn’s new service began operating in mid-October 2014 with ambulances stationed at the Central Fire Station on Minot Avenue and the Center Street Fire Station.

The city spent $778,860 to purchase medical emergency service equipment, including three ambulances, six cardiac monitoring defibrillators, three power cots and two pumps for intravenous medication.

The service also spends about $191,450 for medical supplies, overtime and training.

“The biggest expenses were startup,” Roma said. “Our operating expenses should be significantly less next year than they were this year.”

Roma said of the 3,438 medical service calls, 2,638 involved transporting a patient. That meant they were billable to insurance.

The city has billed insurance companies $2.2 million for ambulance transportation, according to City Finance Director Jill Eastman, and collected $1.15 million, money that goes into the city’s general fund.

But Roma said medical responses keep the heavier trucks and fire equipment off the road. That equipment responded to 877 fewer calls during that period, he said.

“First, that means there were 877 occasions when that apparatus was available to handle other emergencies,” Roma said. “In the past, it might have been committed to the EMS emergency. The cost saving is a bit more of an intangible benefit, but that shows reduced wear and tear and fuel, oil and maintenance costs on that equipment because it did not to have to make almost 900 more trips each year.”

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