Dec 17, 2013 11:50 PM by Maddie Garrett
A new contract for ambulance service in Colorado Springs was signed and sealed on Tuesday, making the separation from El Paso County final when it comes to shared ambulance services.
But even though the new contract with American Medical Response (AMR) only deals with the City, the effects could be felt county wide now that the City is breaking ties.
Some of the positive things being touted in the AMR deal is expanded ambulance service and faster response times.
"We believe that the level of service for the citizens of Colorado Springs will be improved," said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Christopher Riley at an announcement on Tuesday.
Part of that improvement will mean coverage for about a dozen areas of the city not incorporated but still within city limits. Riley also noted that several neighborhoods that previously had 12 minute response times will now be moved into the eight minute response time zone.
Those neighborhoods include: Briargate, Stetson Hills, Broadmoor Bluffs, Rockrimmon, Mountain Shadows and part of Peregrine.
Chief Riley said they will accomplish this by, "Looking at better ways to collaborate ourselves."
But on this deal, there was no collaboration between the City and the County, which used to operate under a joint agreement for ambulance service up until last spring.
"I think it's a step backward for ambulance service and regional cooperation," said El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark.
Clark also sits on the El County Emergency Services Agency (ESA), which the City recently pulled out of. Clark said ESA was meant to keep these kinds of decisions public, and provide a region-wide approach to emergency services.
"I think that's been one of the biggest concerns I've had, is that the public process hasn't taken place in this particular perspective," said Clark.
Another area of concern is that the contract calls for AMR to reimburse the city $1.17 million a year for emergency services provided by the Colorado Springs Fire Department that assist AMR out on a call. The contract also allows the City to adjust this reimbursement on a yearly basis.
"Somehow the contractor is going to have to make up for that $1.17 million," said Clark. "Who pays for that?
AMR and the City said that AMR will make up that money by being more efficient, adding that it is not the reason for a 5% increase in ambulance charges, which starts April 1st, 2014. Instead, they said the rate hike is to make up for inflation adjustments.
Chief Riley said he's not sure how this new deal will impact the County. But Commissioner Clark told News 5 the Board of County Commissioners will have to regroup and see if any changes need to be made to its own bid for an ambulance service contract.