Delavan ambulance service more expensive than expected

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DELAVAN—Providing ambulance service for the city has turned out to be more expensive than expected.

At a special meeting Monday, the Delavan City Council voted to amend the agreement it has with Medix, a division of Curtis-Universal Ambulance.

Medix asked for the changes because it is facing a shortfall of more than $100,000 for its Delavan operations, according to a memo to the council from City Administrator Denise Pieroni and Fire Chief Tim O'Neill.

Medix has provided ambulance service for Delavan since April 2013.

The contract with Medix was a significant change for the city. For more than 70 years, the city had been served by the Delavan Rescue Squad, a nonprofit organization. The organization had been struggling financially for years, and it announced it was closing in January 2013.

As part of the March 2013 agreement, Curtis-Universal Ambulance agreed to buy the assets of the rescue squad. Curtis was considering relocating its maintenance building from Burlington to the rescue squad's former building on Mound Road in Delavan, but the building didn't work out as the company hoped, Pieroni said.

About $65,000 of the company's $100,000 loss is related to the Mound Road building, the memo said.

The amendment the agreement with Medix includes:

--Cutting the hours of a second ambulance by six hours a week. That means the city will have one advanced life-support ambulance on duty 24 hours a day. The second ambulance will be on duty nine hours a day, six days a week.

--The backup ambulance will be available for use by the city's volunteer fire department when Medix is not using it.

--The fire department will provide quarters for the ambulance crew. Pieroni said quarters would include an area for sleeping and a day room.

--Medix will pay up to $10,000 for upgrades to the fire station's exhaust ventilation system.

The financial arrangements will change as well, Pieroni said.  The city now pays Medix $8,000 a month. Starting Jan. 1, that amount will increase to $11,000. In addition, Medix will receive a one-time payment of $21,000 on Aug. 1.

Pieroni said contracting with Medix was still the most cost-effective way to provide ambulance service for the city.

The city has created a task force to consider how to handle its long-term public safety needs, she said.

In a previous interview with the Gazette, Delavan Police Chief and volunteer Fire Chief Tim O'Neill said it's getting more difficult to staff departments with volunteers. The training time, both before and on-the-job, is quite extensive, he said.

Employers also are less willing to let people leave during the day, and people now commute much farther to work, making it difficult for them to respond to local calls, he said.

Last updated: 6:30 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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