There are many reasons why reverting to a private ambulance service doesn’t make sense for the Town of Needham. Among those reasons are the following.
• Private ambulance services lack the infrastructure of the Needham Fire Department. At this time there is no ambulance service situated in Town that could offer the centrally geographical locations that the fire department already has. To acquire similarly located facilities may prove prohibitive for the introduction of a private ambulance company within town.
• Housing a private ambulance vehicle within either or both fire stations is impractical, as these buildings lack the space to accommodate more vehicles. Further there is no space to house private ambulance personnel either.
• If housing space were to be found within Town facilities, the Town would in effect be absorbing costs of a private enterprise, thereby creating a corporate welfare structure. Further, the burden of maintaining such buildings would likely add to the Town’s overall budget obligation.
• With a private ambulance model the Town would receive no EMS related revenues, as only the transporting ambulance can bill for services.
• The fire department would likely be needed to provide support services for most if not all EMS incidents that the private ambulance responds to without any remuneration. Firefighters would be used for lift assist, extrication and other tasks that a two person private ambulance could not provide.
• There are contractual obligations that the Town has to provide pay rates for various levels of EMS certifications that would need to continue until such time, if ever that they would be negotiated out of the collective bargaining agreement with the firefighters union.
• A private ambulance model would by definition require that profits be the primary motivator possibly even ahead of the level of patient care that our townspeople have come to expect over the past forty years.
• The staffing models of most private ambulance services depends heavily on the usage of newly trained EMT’s and generally offers little incentive for personnel to remain with the service. This model does not value experience in the same way as the fire service nor is it conducive to building patient relationships over time causing anxiety for our neighbors.
• The commitment to the Town and the obligations of a private ambulance service is only as good as that company’s business model and subject to be disrupted at any time. This cannot be better illustrated than by referencing the situation created by the bankruptcy of Med Corp EMS and their parent company First Med EMS. This company was one of the largest providers of ambulance services in the country at the time of their bankruptcy filing serving over 70 municipalities over six states. The company shut down ambulance services without notice or explanation over a weekend firing over 2,000 paramedics and other emergency workers. The move left communities scrambling to provide EMS services at a moment’s notice. To vary from the current fire based EMS system that our Townspeople now enjoy and shift to a model carrying this level of risk does not appear to be in the best interest of the community.