Advanced Medical Transport — the private ambulance service provider for the Streator area — set a June deadline for the City Council to respond to its request for taxpayer dollars to supports its business.
Streator City Manager David Plyman told the council Tuesday he and Fire Chief Gary Bird have been working with officials from several different entities, including the Streator firefighters union, to present the council soon with all of its options moving forward.
Plyman said AMT could be seeking an annual payment in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, but he is waiting on the company to provide its written proposal.
AMT has provided the Streator area with 911 paramedic ambulance service since 2004. In that time, the city has not contracted with or compensated AMT for the services.
If the city doesn’t reach an agreement with AMT, Plyman said the company’s officials will keep their service in the city until October.
Councilman Timothy Geary said if AMT expects the city to make a decision on supporting its service by June, it needs to give its written proposal ASAP. The city is operating with a structural deficit.
“We’re definitely working on a limited time period,” said Mayor Tara Bedei, who prompted the update Tuesday from Plyman.
AMT said it responds to 3,580 calls annually within the city. The ambulance service is assisted on life-threatening calls by the Streator Fire Department.
Tim Beccue, vice president of finance at AMT, told the council Feb. 8 with rising operational costs, including labor, technology and equipment, it is no longer financially sustainable for AMT to operate in Streator without financial assistance from the city. OSF Center for Health-Streator is required to have an ambulance on-hand for its standalone emergency room to transfer patients to hospitals. Recently OSF negotiated an agreement with Stark County Ambulance to service transfers to other hospitals, housing an ambulance within its facility on Sixth Street. AMT was handling these transfers prior to that agreement.
After the Feb. 8 meeting, Bedei said the city will be exploring its options, adding the city needed to explore if AMT’s service still is the best process moving forward.
The Streator firefighters union has said it wanted an opportunity to make a proposal for providing ambulance service to the city and has been able to meet with Plyman about that option. When Duffy Ambulance Service, a private company in Pontiac closed, the Pontiac Fire Department provided emergency medical care for residents.
In the three-year agreement with the firefighters union, the city agreed to provide a $2,000 annual stipend for firefighters who achieve EMT-B or higher certification.
Plyman said Tuesday he’s talked to the Streator firefighters union about the possibility of providing the service in-house, neighboring fire departments that provide their own services, including Ottawa, La Salle and Pontiac. He also spoke with ambulance billing companies, actuaries and non-profit ambulance providers, noting there’s still several other officials he’ll consult with the overall goal of giving the council several options.
Bedei said the city hopes to see those by the next committee of the whole meeting in April.