Last Wednesday the Common Council meeting came to a close and held a unanimous vote to hire a third party accounting firm in order to assess and study all of the Lockport Fire Department’s ambulance service income. This meeting lasted upwards of 3 hours, and it proved to be quite challenging for everyone involved. Towards the end of the meeting, Dough Nicholson,retired firefighter, tried his best to encourage the Common Council to vote in favor of allocating the necessary funds to secure that audit.
However, the decision didn’t come easily, and the Common Council was faced with several potential pitfalls. There were plenty of accusations made throughout the hearing, as Nicholson attempted to showcase the influence of politics in the matter at hand. Others such asGina Pasceri, the Alderwoman at large, attempted to demonstrate that due diligence was performed in order to ensure the decision would be a correct one. It took Luke Kantor, the 4th Ward Alderman to talk about the potholes and then finalize the vote.
Nicholson knows from his experience that issues tend to increase in number during the summer. Because of that, it’s imperative to have a very fast response time during those months, especially outside the town limits. During the first few hours of the confrontation, there was a lot of back and forth between fire chief Luca Quagliano, the Major, and Jonathan Schultz (director of the Niagara County Emergency Services). Director of Medical Operations Michael Gugliuzza pointed towards the city to use its available resources and rely on first responders, such as firefighters, to ensure that citizens receive all the necessary assistance and support.
The ad hoc Ambulance Committee had a request for proposals, but the only third party ambulance service that responded to the call was Mercy Flight. Their offer was for $454k a year and in turn they would have 2 ALS ambulances in the city. An important distinction to note is that the city has a surplus of ready and able paramedics. According to Gugliuzza, most other locales are often faced with the challenge of finding paramedics when needed. Gugliuzza suggested that LFD would be the ideal organization to offer support and aid at this particular time.
Based on the accrued overtime, the yearly costs are estimated to be anywhere from $296k to upwards of $394k. In addition, other revenue streams include the $7k from the Accident Insurance Recovery Program and also up to $1 million stemming from ambulance service revenue. It’s important to note that the city now has a Certificate of Need showing fire operators can be an ALS solution, however transport services are not included.
Since the team consists of ALS providers, the paramedics cover EMS calls and according to the law they can’t offer transport services. They also are unable to deny care, but the process is convoluted. With that being said, the document shows that the Lockport firefighters embrace the need for 3rd party ambulance services and sometimes even need those in order to bring patients to the hospital. Billing that service is not possible at this time, which can end up being quite the hassle. The document states that the private ambulance service is not able to ensure an ALS ambulance for Lockport at this time.
Twin City Ambulance president Terry Clark states that he’s focused on offering as much support as possible. He even takes into consideration the idea of going back to the regular ambulance business. The meeting ended with Roman stating that they are hopeful everyone will move forward and accept this new solution. It’s a great way to ensure that everyone’s health and wellbeing is preserved, and hopefully some great new partnerships will arise in the long run!