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Detroit mayor announces plan to privatize EMS, gets no takers

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Detroit mayor announces plan to privatize EMS, gets no takers

"Last week we brought our rig in for maintenance, and the mechanic told us, 'Brakes, tires or steering. Pick any two'

Editor's note: For those who haven't caught on, note the date of publication. Happy April Fools' Day! We hope you enjoyed our series of articles to mark April 1. Check out the full round-up here.

DETROIT — A plan to privatize the broken Detroit EMS system ran into a significant roadblock today when it was revealed that no major private EMS providers had submitted proposals.

Mayor Dave Bing was unavailable for comment, but a spokesman for the mayor's office confirmed that bidding closed today with only one proposal submitted, which the spokesman described as "not serious."

The company submitting the proposal, AngelStat Medical Transport of Flint, operates six ambulances with 37 employees, and runs dialysis and hospice transfers in Flint and surrounding areas.

AngelStat owner Derek Lovell defended his bid, stating, "Hey, we have more functioning ambulances than Detroit Fire EMS, and our response times don't have to be measured with a calendar. We can totally do this."

A Detroit City Councilman, speaking off the record, stated, "There's no question it's a disappointing development. As bad as things are, I had hoped that at least one company would think they can make a go of this.

"I mean, you'd think Matt Millen was running the department or something. No one wants anything to do with it."

Plagued with excessive response times and multiple rigs out of service at any one time, Detroit's paramedics are overworked and understaffed.

And with the city's decaying infrastructure, dwindling tax base and huge budget shortfalls, better times aren't on the horizon.

Citing cost-saving concerns, city leaders began investigating privatization of EMS back in January, believing that a private ambulance provider could operate the EMS system more efficiently, and save the city millions of dollars a year in the process. Union officials disagree, saying that it would cost the city more, and take control of EMS out of city hands.

American Medical Response of Greenwood Village, Colo., the nation's largest EMS provider, expressed early interest in the Detroit contract, but then inexplicably withdrew from negotiations before submitting a formal proposal.

When asked to explain AMR's sudden reversal of interest, AMR Business Development Director Melvin Wheatley stated he was not at liberty to say.

Mr. Wheatley did express potential AMR interest if Detroit officials reopened the bidding, asking, "What was Rural Metro's offer? Whatever it was, we'll bid a million dollars more. Or less. Less means Rural Metro gets the contract, right?"

"All I know is that I'd work for Satan himself if he could put up a half dozen more ambulances with working air conditioners," said one Detroit paramedic. "Last week we brought our rig in for maintenance, and the mechanic told us, 'Brakes, tires or steering. Pick any two.'               

We're sterilizing and re-sharpening used IV needles and turning our gloves inside out so we can wear them a second time, for Pete's sake. We need help."


Comments
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Bobby Wisenberger Bobby Wisenberger Sunday, April 01, 2012 11:21:02 AM Truly dislike April Fools stories.
Mark Peck Mark Peck Sunday, April 01, 2012 5:19:23 PM The really sad thing about this April Fools story is that its so close to the truth, you can't call it a joke. Having lived through NYC EMS in the 80's, I know just how it feels to have a city government abandon your service financially, and the only reason your system functions at all is due to the dedication and skill of its members who find ways to patch ambulances together and adapt and overcome.,
Charles Salvi Charles Salvi Sunday, April 01, 2012 5:20:53 PM No quality control. Is it a seperate EMS system
Jay Dedo Jay Dedo Sunday, April 01, 2012 6:47:14 PM There is no profit in a public service
Charles Jordan Charles Jordan Sunday, April 01, 2012 7:46:46 PM The only support we had was from each other,and my suspenders.
Mel Maguire Mel Maguire Sunday, April 01, 2012 10:19:07 PM Wow...this one's almost believable until the very last two lines!
Scott Campbell Scott Campbell Tuesday, April 03, 2012 4:04:43 AM Now that is funnt!
Kelly Grayson Kelly Grayson Tuesday, April 03, 2012 7:18:40 AM Brandon, you and your compatriots at Detroit Fire Department EMS have my respect. You are killing yourselves serving the people of Detroit, and your FD administration and the city are doing nothing to support you. You deserve better than you're getting. The people that do NOT have my respect are the FD administration and the Detroit city government that let it get so bad in the first place. They're the people the article is making fun of, not you. There was a point to the Matt Millen reference - it's not the players, it's the management. Please pass along my kudos to your brethren on the rigs for doing a very tough job in very trying circumstances.
Michael Furby Michael Furby Tuesday, April 03, 2012 7:26:28 AM Exactly, those two lines couldn't be more false..... sad part is someone will believe it...
Robert Meyersieck Robert Meyersieck Tuesday, April 03, 2012 8:15:55 AM We are not scabs
Eric Doc Liddy Sr. Eric Doc Liddy Sr. Tuesday, April 03, 2012 8:50:17 AM No April's Fools about the, "Drive it until it blows up." comment. The cooling fan on our rig seized and we were told that, "It's an all day job and it's not likely to be fixed anytime soon, so drive it until it dies." I find it highly laughable that any Scab units were brought in. We hear of them complaining about pulling 5-7 runs, while we are hammered non-stop, with some of our units responding to as many as 24 runs in 12 hours and putting more than 150 miles on each unit in that shift.
Eric Doc Liddy Sr. Eric Doc Liddy Sr. Tuesday, April 03, 2012 8:51:05 AM If you are non-union, you're a Scab.
Eric Doc Liddy Sr. Eric Doc Liddy Sr. Tuesday, April 03, 2012 8:52:06 AM Eric Liddy Sr. Medic 3, Nights 1, #498.
Aaron Jozwick Aaron Jozwick Tuesday, April 03, 2012 5:50:55 PM Forget scabs... it's the a-rabs y'all need to be hating
Aaron Jozwick Aaron Jozwick Tuesday, April 03, 2012 5:51:32 PM And Meyersick is like an itchy scab on my nut sack.
Thomas McCracken Thomas McCracken Wednesday, April 04, 2012 12:21:03 PM Well Mel, not sure where you are from but the 3 posts that are in response are all by DEMS employees. Not a joke and not exaggerated! If a unit pulls 24 runs in 12 hrs probably less than 1/2 are actual transports. Response time is sometimes so bad callers have found other ways to get to the hospital. When you come in service from that one, even though it's a non-transport, the next run is waiting. It is still responding hot (90% are hot responses) to a ridiculous number of runs.
Mel Maguire Mel Maguire Saturday, April 07, 2012 10:43:29 PM Thomas McCracken last two lines...the ones talking about re-sharpening IV needles and turning gloves inside-out.
Daniel Gerard Daniel Gerard Friday, April 13, 2012 11:50:41 AM Government has to realize that EMS is an ESSENTIAL and CRITICAL service. Looking for the low-ball bid will seriously undermine the quality of care delivered to patients. If a city, any city, is unwilling to provide the service as part of the government, they have to realize, that for the 9-1-1 operator to make a profit (they are in this for the money) they will need to provide a substantial subsidy to offset the self-pay and non-payers into the system. The comment from above "A Detroit City Councilman, speaking off the record, stated, "There's no question it's a disappointing development. As bad as things are, I had hoped that at least one company would think they can make a go of this" shows how out of touch the City Council for Detroit is. Re-imburseables from Medicare, Medicaid, and all other private insurers are down. The economy is a long way away from sustaining itself or providing meaningful jobs with good health insurance, so what did the City of Detroit mean when they said a bid for ambulance serious is 'not serious'? Any private, for profit, EMS/ambulance service is in the business to make money, not lose it. With substantial risk involved with very little chance of payment, what did they expect? If it was profitable, the City of Detroit would be able to buy new ambulances and sustain the service. Even if they tried to attract a not-for-profit ambulance service, the challenge does not go away, you still want to break even.
Chris Callsen Chris Callsen Friday, April 13, 2012 12:03:50 PM This is an incredibly difficult situation for the City of Detroit...though I have to say, the best line of the whole article is the comment by the owner of AngelStat:
Chris Callsen Chris Callsen Friday, April 13, 2012 12:04:10 PM 'AngelStat owner Derek Lovell defended his bid, stating, "Hey, we have more functioning ambulances than Detroit Fire EMS, and our response times don't have to be measured with a calendar. We can totally do this.'
Daniel Gerard Daniel Gerard Friday, April 13, 2012 12:13:49 PM It was just pointed out to me, this is an April Fools story, but still sad none the less. If the City of Detroit decides to go out to bid and then designed a poor service level contract, regardless of who they select as the provider (AMR, Rural Metro, AngelStat, etc.) they will still fail the end user, in this case the patient.
Jay Fossier Jay Fossier Friday, April 13, 2012 1:07:36 PM Damn April Fools!
Jason Edwards Jason Edwards Friday, April 13, 2012 1:13:23 PM I totally agree bud!! Let's take current shortages on epi, atropine, versed, Ativan, (thanx alco for the possibility of pilot on Ativan instead of versed.... Too bad Ativan on BO also...?!!!!!) benadryl and whatever else. Complete pathetic nightmare!!! There is no priority for "street lives!!" I bet there's enough of the latest multi thousand dollar per dose cancer drug available though but no legislation to make sure my fn ambulance or engine has what it takes to save you or me. Just sayin..
Jason Edwards Jason Edwards Friday, April 13, 2012 1:14:15 PM Sorry if not totally on topic but it close and I needed to vent!!!!
Lynn Sandell Lynn Sandell Friday, April 13, 2012 1:35:10 PM Dan, once again your insight shines!
Lew Fiord Lew Fiord Friday, April 13, 2012 4:39:51 PM 1: who the hell did he think would want it 2: who the hell could actually handle it.
Ruth McGuire Woolery Ruth McGuire Woolery Monday, April 23, 2012 12:08:47 PM Hopefully, this draws more attention to the EMS woes in Detroit. Otherwise, I don't find it funny at all. Too close to the truth. My Detroit Brothers & Sisters have my utmost respect.