by Pam Zubeck
Looks like it won't be long before firefighters will be taking sick people to the hospital, instead of private contractor American Medical Response.
At least that's the intent of Mayor Steve Bach. The self-described conservative apparently wants to grow government in this arena.
During an executive session Monday, Colorado Springs City Council was told the mayor wants to have the city Fire Department take over transport, according to a memo from Councilor Merv Bennett to the Emergency Services Agency board, which oversees the countywide contract for emergency ambulance service with AMR.
Here's the memo, with the relevant portion highlighted. Below that, you'll see Bennett reference the city's "neighbors" within El Paso County, who, as relatively low-population areas, could find themselves scrambling to find a transit provider willing to serve them:
To: ESA Board of Directors, Eileen Gonzalez
From: Merv Bennett, ESA Board Member
On Monday, December 10, the City Council, Mayor Bach, Chief Brown, Deputy Chief Smith, and the City Attorney met together to receive legal advice and to discuss issues related to the ESA contract with AMR. This was initiated by the Mayor and the Fire Chief as a result of the discussions at the ESA Board over the past several months regarding a potential extension of the AMR contract, and my communication to the Council last week regarding those issues. In this communication, I brought to the Council and Mayor the option of a one-year extension of the ESA contract with AMR.
At this time, the Council does not plan to approve any extension of the contract beyond the December 31, 2013 date, still over 12 months away from today. As the ESA Board has discussed, ESA has a unilateral right to extend the current AMR contract an additional 3 months, guaranteeing the ESA contract with AMR will not expire at least until March 31, 2014, over 15 months from today. The proposed one-year extension of the AMR contract would go beyond the current commitment, and obligate the City of Colorado Springs for a period of 24 months from today, and possibly 27 months, which would include all of 2013, the one-year extension of 2014, and the potential of 3 additional months at the discretion of the ESA Board. The Council is not prepared to agree that an extension is appropriate at this early date until the issues have been fully considered. The City of Colorado Springs is giving serious consideration to the delivery of emergency services within our City Limits. Since 85% of the 911 (ESA) calls occur within our City limits, and the City of Colorado Springs firefighters arrive first on the scene approximately 75% of the time, serious consideration of our relationship with the ambulance provider, ESA, and our Fire Department is critical.
Council had directed that a plan for moving forward be presented for consideration no later than our first meeting in February, 2013 (February 12). We have been assured by the Mayor and the Chief that any plan for moving forward will give strong consideration and options to our neighbors within El Paso County, with appreciation and support for all of our fellow ESA members. Any new suggestions or proposals will be discussed with ESA, and input will be solicited and carefully considered. As a result, City Council will not be planning to consider any extension of the ESA contract at the January 8, 2013, Formal Council meeting.
Colorado Springs City Council/ESA Board Member
We've asked AMR to comment on Bennett's memo. If and when we hear back, we'll update.