The city of Streator is looking to buy an ambulance as officials continue to research the future of emergency ambulance service within the community.
All options remain open, after the city was given a June deadline from Advanced Medical Transport to decide whether it would retain its services, said Streator City Manager David Plyman. AMT, the private ambulance company which services Streator for 911 calls, asked the city to contribute $400,000 for the first year, $500,000 the second year, $600,000 the third year and $700,000 the fourth year to continue providing service within the city.
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.
Plyman said buying a remounted ambulance for $170,250 will allow the city to own its own vehicles and equipment and control the business end of emergency ambulance service, regardless of which direction the city decides for ambulance service. The city will want to handle billing to do so, he said. Buying an ambulance also is required for the city to begin the regulatory process.
The city manager said he is researching two routes to give the City Council options. He is collective bargaining with the Streator firefighters to explore utilizing firefighters to provide emergency ambulance service. The other path involves requesting bids from established ambulance service providers to contract services, including AMT.
“I am confident I’ll have options in place for the council by our June meeting,” Plyman said.
While the city is operating in a structural deficit, Plyman said COVID-19 relief funds can be used to purchase ambulances and equipment. The city also may look to buy a second ambulance soon, because it may take several months with national supply-and-demand issues before it receives it. Plyman said the city could sell any ambulance(s) it buys if it is discovered they aren’t needed.
Plyman said he would like to see the city operate, whether the service is handled in-house or contracted, with at least three ambulances. Two ambulances would be staffed 24/7 and a third ambulance would be used as a back up, or for hospital transfers.
The city manager said he has contacted neighboring fire districts and township governments serviced by AMT to update them on the situation, notifying them an intergovernmental agreement would need to be reached with the city to provide services to their districts, if those entities decide to utilize the same service as Streator.
Streator Mayor Tara Bedei said she wanted to make sure the city’s taxpayers are protected and not paying outrageous fees to provide services outside the community, without those neighboring districts properly compensating the service. Bedei also said she appreciates all AMT and its employees have done for the city, noting there may be job opportunities for them, depending on what the council decides.
Plyman said there is no animosity toward AMT, which has said it will continue its service until October, even if the city decides next month it will no longer utilize them.
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.
Source: The Daily Chronicle