Officials present new proposal for EMS service in Ohio city
The proposal comes after the Uhrichsville Fire Department put in a competing offer to provide either EMS service or fire and EMS service to the same area
By Nancy Molnar
UHRICHSVILLE, Ohio — A private ambulance company wants $17 per person to assign a squad full-time to the Twin Cities area after its current contract, at $14 a person, expires Jan. 31.
But Smith Ambulance owner and President Robert L. Smith said the offer depends on the city joining Mill, Union, Warwick and Rush townships, and the villages of Tuscarawas and Dennison, in keeping the Dover-based company as its primary emergency medical service.
"If Uhrichsville drops out, we cannot afford to bring a unit down here," Smith said.
He said it would be "dangerous" to have an emergency medical service plan for Uhrichsville that doesn't include neighboring communities.
"I think a plan has to look at a region, not just one town," Smith said.
He made a formal proposal Monday for replacing the company's current agreement at an ambulance committee meeting attended by officials from Uhrichsville and neighboring communities.
Council President and Mayor-Elect Mark Haney said Monday's session was intended to provide information to the city, Dennison and the townships. No decision was made.
Smith's proposal followed by a month a competing offer from the Uhrichsville Fire Department to provide either EMS service or fire and EMS service to the same area. The fire department proposal calls for giving emergency medical service to the city for $24 per Uhrichsville resident, and $22 per resident for outlying areas.
Prior to Monday's meeting, Smith had proposed a subsidy of $22 per resident for maintaining its existing service to the cities, village and townships.
He said the lower charge of $17 would provide the company a thin margin, and was made possible by an expected increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates. He said the company hopes to reduce overtime pay with better schedule management.
Smith is asking for a three-year contract with a 60-day cancellation clause.
The proposed increase in the subsidy would raise the cost to the covered communities by a total of $40,662 per year over the current $189,756 annually. Smith said the subsidy would be comparable to that offered by a Cambridge-based ambulance company in Noble County, which has a population similar in size to the Twin Cities region.
Smith said he would guarantee the price would stay the same throughout the contract term.
He said the company provides a lot of service without charge, such as stationing an ambulance at sporting events.
He calculated that the firm had given the Twin Cities region nearly $300,000 in taxes and donations in the 20 years it has served the community, including $26,550 to Trinity Hospital Twin City in Dennison.
"We've been honored to be a part of this community," Smith said. "We think the system works really well now."
Councilman Robert "Buck" Cottrell asked Smith to give a price that includes the company sending a backup ambulance when the regularly stationed squad is called into service.
Councilman Bill Grandison said the city has incurred overtime costs to bring in firefighters when those on duty are called to provide EMS service for a second call when the Smith's Twin Cities squad is busy.
Smith stopped sending a backup ambulance to the Twin Cities in March after the Uhrichsville Fire Department started responding to EMS calls when the Smith squad was in service.
Smith said the company couldn't make any money by sending the second crew because Uhrichsville was responding first. Smith crews would burn fuel driving to the Twin Cities, only to be pulled off the call when they were as little as a mile away.
Cottrell said Uhrichsville should pay less than other communities if it is going to provide backup ambulance service.
©2019 The Times-Reporter, New Philadelphia, Ohio