Category Archives: Emergency.Services

Mid-County Ambulance District to exit contract with Mercy LifeStar

Source: Marie Thomas Baird, Sentinel-Tribune, June 30, 2016

The Mid-County Ambulance District is separating from its contract with Mercy LifeStar Ambulance, but plans to continue providing emergency medical services. … The ambulance district, which serves Plain, Portage and Center townships plus the village of Portage, has been in business since 1992. But Mercy LifeStar wants to double its contract fees with the district, leading leaders to opt out and become an independent provider. … Bechstein pointed out that Grand Rapids Township left Mercy LifeStar last year after not receiving a new bid for service, “so we’re talking about going out on our own” too. He estimated the district has 40 runs each month, many on the interstate and Ohio routes that cut through its service area. … To renew the contract that expires Dec. 31, it would cost nearly double, he added. Their current contract with Mercy LifeStar is $198,654, according to Denise Foos. The district owns the building on County Home Road but Mercy LifeStar owns the vehicles and pays the salaries. The employees on staff with Mercy LifeStar want to work for the district, he said. …

Report: Privatization of EMS services lower quality of care

Source: EMS1, June 28, 2016

A recent investigative report published by the New York Times sheds light on the growing trend of private equity firms purchasing and investing in EMS and fire services, and the potentially negative repercussions that may follow. Numerous ambulance and fire agencies acquired by private equity firms, the Times reported, are aimed at making a profit from emergency calls while cutting costs and increasing prices. … Out of 12 ambulance companies recently owned by private equity firms, three filed for bankruptcy in the last three years. All three had had issues prior to being taken over by a private equity firm.  One service, Rural/Metro, was taken into bankruptcy by an equity investor, while another helped it out. During that period, the Times found that Rural/Metro’s response time slowed in some towns while billing practices dramatically increased.  TransCare EMS services, acquired by Patriarch Partners, went through bankruptcy after a slew of supplies shortages, equipment failures and sending patients increasingly expensive bills.

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When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers
Source: DANIELLE IVORY, BEN PROTESS and KITTY BENNETT, New York Times, June 25, 2016

The business of driving ambulances and operating fire brigades represents just one facet of a profound shift on Wall Street and Main Street alike, a New York Times investigation has found. Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms, the “corporate raiders” of an earlier era, have increasingly taken over a wide array of civic and financial services that are central to American life. Today, people interact with private equity when they dial 911, pay their mortgage, play a round of golf or turn on the kitchen tap for a glass of water. Private equity put a unique stamp on these businesses. Unlike other for-profit companies, which often have years of experience making a product or offering a service, private equity is primarily skilled in making money. And in many of these businesses, The Times found, private equity firms applied a sophisticated moneymaking playbook: a mix of cost cuts, price increases, lobbying and litigation. … For governments and their citizens, the effects have often been dire. Under private equity ownership, some ambulance response times worsened, heart monitors failed and companies slid into bankruptcy, according to a Times examination of thousands of pages of internal documents and government records, as well as interviews with dozens of former employees. In at least two cases, lawsuits contend, poor service led to patient deaths. …

… In many of the fields where private equity now operates, it has not necessarily performed better or worse than the banks and governments it replaced. In some cases it financed projects that others wouldn’t fund and provided crucial public services, including emergency care. And because these firms do not rely on the government for loans, and are much smaller than Wall Street banks, they pose far less risk to the broader economy. … But the Times investigation of emergency services shows that hasn’t always been the case. …

Buffalo Forces Rural Metro to Improve Response Times

Source: Luke Moretti and Rose Ciotta, Journal of Emergency Medical Services, June 21, 2016

Buffalo took steps Monday that could lead to fines against Rural Metro for slow ambulance response times. The city’s Emergency Medical Services Board voted unanimously to serve the company a “notice of inquiry.” The company will then have 30 days to respond to complaints of poor response times and too few ambulances assigned to the city under its five year contract with Rural Metro. That contract also spells out required response times for three categories of calls. But as News 4 Investigates has reported in recent weeks, Rural Metro has failed to meet response times for the most serious calls going back to November when it signed a contract to exclusively handle emergency medical calls in the city. … Rural Metro has 30 days to respond to the city’s “notice of inquiry” which could result in fines against the ambulance company. Rural Metro was purchased by American Medical Response and is in the process of converting to that company. …

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Buffalo board pushes Rural/Metro for answers on ambulance delays
Source: Lou Michel, Buffalo News, June 20, 2016

Buffalo’s Emergency Medical Services Board wants answers from the city’s ambulance provider about its failure to meet goals for response times when lives are on the line. The EMS Board voted Monday to issue a letter of inquiry to Rural/Metro Ambulance on why the contractually specified goals are not being met, Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. said. … Whitfield said he believes that new ownership, integration of mechanical equipment and computer hardware have all contributed to the unacceptable delays. The contract requires Rural/Metro to meet minimum established goals for response times at least 90 percent of the time, and the company has fallen below that requirement, “particularly when it comes to advanced life support” arriving at emergencies, the commissioner said. …

Rural Metro’s new director promises faster ambulance responses in Buffalo
Source: Ross Ciotta, WIVB, June 16, 2016

Tom Maxian has been on the job less than two weeks and already he’s making big changes at Rural Metro.  In his first public interview, Maxian says his company needs to put its exclusive contract with Buffalo first … Ambulance response times are longer than the company promised and there’s noise in city hall about fining the company. Maxian said one solution is to stop responding to non-emergency transports in towns where Rural Metro does not have a contract. … News 4 investigates recently revealed that Rural Metro was failing to meet response times under its five year contract with Buffalo. The most recent response times for May presented Thursday to the city’s Emergency Medical Board show that Rural Metro continues to meet the its contract with the city for basic life support but not for the more serious calls. In May 96 percent of basic life support calls were responded to within the required time mark of less than 15 minutes. Advanced life support came in at 81.9 percent at less than 10 minutes. The contract requires 90 percent. …

Rural Metro responds to long wait times, suggests change
Source: Dave Greber, June 10, 2016

Rural Metro says change is coming, after a burn victim had to wait nearly 20 minutes for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. But will that incident, a fire Tuesday afternoon on Kail Street, and a new administration, be enough to sway the private ambulance company to action? During peak times, when emergency call volume is at its greatest, there are between 10 and 20 Rural Metro ambulances on the streets of the city of Buffalo. That’s a number defined by the contract between the city and Rural Metro, and it changes depending on the month and season. … The other big issue with this is knowing where ambulances in the city are located at all times. That’s information that Rural Metro has refused to share with first responders, but that may change, too, when the company’s fleet is updated with GPS tracking devices, Addario said. That, and how often ambulances are dispatched with fire crews, will be topics of a discussion scheduled for Monday among Rural Metro’s new administration, city officials and members of its ambulance board.

Council Members decry ambulance response times
Source: WKBW, June 8, 2016

Just a day after a man suffered first and second degree burns in a house fire, two Buffalo Common Council Members are calling on Rural/Metro to step up its first response service. On Tuesday, Buffalo Fire responded to a house fire on Kail Street in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood.  According to neighbors, a fireman had to flag-down an ambulance that happened to be driving by, because an ambulance from Rural/Metro had not yet arrived at the scene. … Rural/Metro disputes that there was a problem. The company’s Vice President of Operations, Mike Addario, provided this statement to 7 Eyewitness News:

During the Kail Street fire, the emergency response mutual aid system was tested in Buffalo, and it worked. Yesterday, during a spike in emergency calls, we needed backup help from our partner Twin City Ambulance, and today in Tonawanda we were able to provide mutual aid in their service area.

… Regardless, Golombek and Scanlon say they want the Kail Street incident investigated by both Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the Buffalo Emergency Medical Services Board. They’re asking that Rural/Metro be fined if the investigation proves the company had an unacceptable response time.

AMR, formerly Rural/Metro, names new leader in Buffalo
Source: Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First, May 31, 2016

American Medical Response has named a new leader for its Western New York operations. Tom Maxian will serve as regional director for the Buffalo company, which took over the former Rural/Metro following a $620 million acquisition last year by parent company Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc. … He’ll be responsible for overseeing operations at the William L. Gaiter Parkway facility, including a workforce of 400 field staff and dispatch employees, as well as pursuing new opportunities in the region. Maxian takes over for Jay Smith, who left the company just weeks ago after three years in the position. …

Buffalo’s mayor ‘absolutely concerned’ about ambulance response times
Source: Luke Moretti, WIVB, May 18, 2016

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he is “absolutely concerned” about ambulance response times in the city. Reacting to a News 4 report on lapses in response times regarding some of the most serious calls involving the city’s exclusive ambulance provider, Rural Metro, Brown called it a “critically important issue.” … Rural Metro has a five-year contract with the city that includes penalty payments that range from $750 up to $25,000 depending on circumstances and the frequency of non-compliance. Non-compliance for a month carries a $1,500 fine. A full quarter of non-compliance can result in a $7,500 fine; four quarters could result in a $10,000 fine with 30 days to correct. Failure to correct after 30 days, could mean a $25,000 fine. … For Advanced Life Support Non-Life Threatening, Rural Metro was in compliance 82.88 percent. The contract requires that at least 90 percent of its calls are responded to in nine minutes, 59 seconds or less. For Advanced Life Support Life Threatening, the ambulance company had a compliance rate of 80.28 percent. The contract requires that at least 90 percent of the calls are responded to in eight minutes, 59 seconds. The county reports show that Rural Metro did meet the contract for the least serious calls known as Basic Life Support Emergent on average, in just over 91 percent of the calls. The monthly response times varied from a low of 89.4 percent in February to a high of 93.9 percent in March. …
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Private ambulance company plans hiring spree

Source: Kaitlin Schroeder, Dayton Business Journal, June 14, 2016

A private ambulance company is planning a hiring blitz and opening a new location in Dayton. Buckeye Ambulance is moving from Centerville to Dayton, which will mean three times more space and major hiring in the near future, according to a press release from the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. … Buckeye Ambulance started in 2012 with the purchase of two ambulances and has since grown to nearly 50 vehicles, including a mix of ambulance, wheelchair vans and supporting command vehicles. It specializes in inner hospital transports and getting clients to and from doctor office visits and specialty appointments. Along with the new facility, Buckeye plans to hire 100 to 150 people to add to its current local workforce of 100. Buckeye will hold onsite interviews for EMT’s, advanced paramedics and ambulette drivers. …

White Plains approves three-year ambulance deal

Source: Richard Liebson, LoHud.com, June 8, 2016

Three months after the TransCare ambulance company abruptly went bankrupt, the White Plains Common Council has approved a three-year contract with Yonkers-based Empress Ambulance Services to handle emergency medical response in the city. Empress has been providing ambulance service in White Plains under an emergency agreement since Feb. 21, when  TransCare shut down. The closure also left Mount Vernon and New Rochelle without ambulances; both cities also hired Empress on a 90-day, emergency basis. … The new White Plains deal runs retroactively from May 1 through  April 30, 2019, and gives the city an option for two additional one year agreements. Empress will receive $489,000 for the first year of the contract, with annual increases of 3.5 percent, making the agreement worth $523,860 in the final year. … New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said Tuesday that his city continues to be served by Empress through an emergency contract and that a permanent agreement with the company could be finalized as early as next week. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas could not be reached for an update on ambulance service there. When TransCare folded in March, Thomas said the city would look into the possibility of having the fire department take over ambulance duties.

Sun City will honor existing resident ambulance contracts

Source: Rusty Bradshaw, Sun City Independent, May 30, 2016

As Sun City Fire and Medical Department officials gear up for ambulance service, they are dealing with squelching inaccurate impressions from residents. Department staff fielded more than 20 calls in late-May from residents concerned bout losing services because they believed their contracts with American Medical Response were ending. Ambulance service, once it begins under the Sun City Fire District, will remain much the same, aside from being more efficient, according to Mike Thompson, Sun City fire chief. … The chief said Sun City would honor any AMR contracts once they begin service, and would honor any contracts that are not renewed at the time of service. …

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Key hurdle removed to Sun City Fire and Medical Dept.’s new ambulance service
Source: Jeff Grant, Daily News-Sun, March 15, 2016

The private ambulance carrier serving Sun City has dropped its opposition to the Sun City Fire and Medical Department running its own service, removing a key hurdle to the latter’s providing emergency ambulances as early as this year. … Thompson said the decision leaves the SCFMD’s application for a ground ambulance Certificate of Necessity with no outside opposition. It also sends the application to Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ. … AMR’s decision marks an about face from June 2015, when the company’s predecessor, Rural Metro, sought to block Sun City Fire and Medical’s application.

Woman receives $3,500 ambulance bill after giving birth in hospital parking lot

Source: MacKenzie Bean, Becker’s Hospital Review, May 26, 2016

After Katie Moraida gave birth to son Sawyer in a hospital parking lot, she received two separate bills exceeding $3,500 for an ambulance ride to the hospital door. When Ms. Moraida’s water broke a week early, her husband rushed her to Sutter Roseville (Calif.) Hospital. She delivered the baby in the hospital parking lot. … The Moraidas received two separate bills, one for Ms. Moraida and one for her son. Insurance covered Ms. Moraida’s portion of the bill, but not the baby’s, due to the way ambulance operator AMR coded the visit. … Consumer advocate Amy Bach with the United Policyholders said coding is a common issue with insurance, forcing families like the Moraidas to pay more than expected. Ms. Bach is pushing for a federal law that would give families six months to resolve coding issues with insurers before being sent to collections. …

105 ambulance workers in Snohomish County laid off

Source: Gabe Cohen, KOMO News, June 2, 2016

American Medical Response said Thursday that the layoffs are part of its acquisition of Rural/Metro Corporation, an emergency medical services company based in Everett. AMR acquired Rural/Metro last year. Last month the company sent letters to 80 full-time and 25 part-time Rural/Metro workers, including emergency medical technicians, dispatchers and clerical staff, informing them of the impending layoff effective July 31. … AMR met with many of those “impacted employees” at Rural/Metro’s headquarters Thursday, when it told them about 36 current AMR job openings in Western Washington. Laid-off workers can also pursue AMR jobs elsewhere in the US. AMR confirms that those employees would have to reapply for any job openings just as any member of the public would. The company couldn’t say if any jobs will be reserved for Rural/Metro workers. …

Ambulance companies to fill gap left by largest provider

Source: Reggie Ellis, The Foothills Sun-Gazette, June 1, 2016

Tulare County may be losing its largest ambulance provider, but local emergency medical officials say residents won’t see the difference. On May 19, American Medical Response (AMR), part of the nation’s largest ambulance service, announced that it would be shutting down its Tulare County operations by Aug. 31, 2016. AMR, which began operating in Tulare County in 1981, stated in a Feb. 24 letter that it was considering closing its local operations unless it could negotiate wage concessions with its union and obtain a consensus from the other ambulance providers on a rate increase. In her May 19 letter addressed to the Central California Emergency Medical Services Agency (CCEMSA), which oversees ambulance service in Tulare, Kings, Madera and Fresno Counties, AMR’s Regional Director Cindy Woolston said the company was unable to do either. … While that seems like a huge void to fill, there are still seven other ambulance providers covering calls in the County – including Dinuba Fire and Ambulance, LifeStar Ambulance in Tulare, Imperial Ambulance in Porterville, Exeter District Ambulance, California Hot Springs Ambulance, Camp Nelson Ambulance and American Ambulance of Visalia. Lynch said AMR is the only ambulance company with offices in two cities (Visalia and Porterville) but other companies will only have to absorb about 30 calls per day Visalia and 7 calls per day in Porterville. …

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AMR ambulance leaving Tulare County
Source: Patrick Nelson, CBS Fresno, May 19, 2016

Residents in Tulare County are preparing themselves for life without AMR ambulance service. AMR and their employees have served the Tulare County area for more than 30 years, but Thursday company leaders made their plans to leave the county public. AMR ambulances will continue to transport Tulare County patients until the end of August, but at that point AMR’s services will leave Tulare County. It’s a financial decision that leaves dozens without jobs and residents wondering what this means for them. … AMR leaders say Four other ambulance companies will now begin the transition take on the work left behind. AMR had 15,000 service calls last year.

Cash-strapped NHS trust blows £2MILLION on private ambulances in seven months, figures reveal

Source: Stephen Hayward, The Mirror, May 7, 2016

A cash-strapped NHS trust that handed luxury cars out to top staff has drawn fresh flak for spending more than £10,000 a day on ­private ambulances. East of England Ambulance Service is so short-handed it has to use non-NHS vehicles and staff to answer 999 calls. Figures obtained by the Sunday People under Freedom of Information laws reveal that the trust spent £2.076million on private ambulances between July last year and January. The monthly bill for the services shot up more than 400% in the period, from £98,840 to £517,071. … The county with the biggest bill for private ambulances, at £945,000, is Essex – where one of East of England Ambulance Service’s ­current directors used to run a private ambulance company that provided vehicles to the trust. … As the use of private ambulances now ­increases across the UK, the trend is ­fuelling accusations of creeping ­privatisation of the NHS.­ The College of Emergency Medicine argues that their routine use is “incredibly wasteful and potentially dangerous”. It adds that there is too little oversight of the private firms providing the service. Patients’ groups have also voiced ­concerns over the trend, fearing that some companies do not train staff adequately while others have poor records for ­hygiene and safety. … The Sunday People revealed last week that East of England ambulance service leased 81 private cars at £454,636. They included Land Rover Discoveries and a Toyota Land Cruiser. Today figures ­obtained using the Freedom of Information Act show other trusts splashed out too. South Central ambulance trust spent £484,675 and one car was an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. …