New La. city ambulance contract seeks to improve response times
The contract requires the city's ambulance service to improve its average response time by two minutes
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
BROUSSARD, La. — Medical emergency outcomes could improve in Broussard because of a new contract between the city and Acadian Ambulance.
The Broussard City Council unanimously agreed last week for the city to enter into an agreement with Acadian for emergency and non-emergency services in the hopes of improving emergency response times for residents.
"It could mean that we save some additional lives," said Broussard Mayor Ray Bourque. "We get what we want, which is faster response times, and it gives them a guarantee to further invest equipment and manpower in our city."
Acadian Ambulance's average emergency response time is just under 13 minutes within the city limits of Broussard. The contract would require Acadian's response time to improve by 2 minutes to an average response time of 10 minutes and 59 seconds.
The one-year contract will go into effect Feb. 1 and will be re-evaluated at the end of 2020.
Broussard is the first municipality in Lafayette Parish to enter into an agreement directly with Acadian Ambulance. Others are covered by a parish-wide contract between Acadian and Lafayette Consolidated Government.
"We've had excellent relationships in Broussard with the fire department, the police department, the mayor and the city council," said Michael Burney, regional vice president for Acadian Ambulance. "This is just the next step. Before 10 years ago, this probably wasn't necessary, but the way this area has grown, we're running more emergencies in this area, and with that, we should be able to provide better response times."
Acadian Ambulance has made a push in recent months to secure separate contracts with other cities in Lafayette Parish.
That's likely because of increased competition from another ambulance service.
MedExpress made a push earlier this year to offer services in Acadia and Vernon parishes.
The Acadia Parish Police Jury in February narrowly voted down a proposal that would have allowed MedExpress to operate alongside Acadian Ambulance.
A week later, the Vernon Parish Police Jury unanimously approved a permit for MedExpress to operate in the parish alongside Acadian.
Broussard's contract with Acadian will prevent another ambulance service from operating in the city and ensure Acadian is the exclusive non-emergency ambulance service in the city. Non-emergency services include things such as transporting bed-bound patients to doctor appointments or physical therapy sessions.
"We have to have units that are ready, but a lot of times they won't run. They'll be sitting there for hours waiting for a call," Burney said. "And so we'll support our 911 service through the non-emergency calls. By doing those calls as well, it helps us maintain a healthy financial situation."
Acadian Ambulance could not provide an average response time for other cities within Lafayette Parish. The new performance metric has not used until now, according to Burney.
Instead, Acadian Ambulance's existing contract with Lafayette Consolidated Government requires the company to respond to calls outside of Lafayette within 12 minutes 80% of the time.
Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter said he's been approached by Acadian Ambulance but has been hesitant to enter into an agreement with the company because it would limit competition in the city.
Ritter said he's more interested in discussing a contract with Acadian now that Broussard has negotiated a better emergency response time as part of the agreement.
"I would like to see our response times improve, and we look forward to having that discussion," Ritter said. "I just want to make sure that it's advantageous to Youngsville, and it's not just something that's one-sided."
A clause in Broussard's contract would require Acadian Ambulance to match emergency response times promised to any other city in the parish if lower than the average time in Broussard's agreement.
"We wanted to make sure we always maintain the fastest response time in this city or be equal to any other cities in the parish," Bourque said. "We expect any company we do business with to tool up and give Broussard citizens the best that they can."
©2019 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.