Originally published on www.dailypilot.com April 11, 2016 click here for article.
By Robin Leffler
Recently, the Costa Mesa City Council had the opportunity to improve the city’s paramedic ambulance service and the financial health of the city all in one vote.
Instead, the council voted 3-2 to continue the current inefficient and costly system.
Since the Jan. 19 vote, the issue has remained a topic of community concern.
Remember three years ago when the council voted 5-0 to spend $1.6 million for new state-of-the-art ambulances?
They are still underutilized. Costa Mesa Fire Department paramedics respond to medical calls in the new city-owned ambulances.
Concurrently, an ambulance owned by CARE Ambulance Service is also dispatched, but CARE has no paramedics. If the patient requires hospital transport they are loaded into the CARE ambulance and, if the situation requires paramedic attention, a CMFD paramedic must board the CARE ambulance. Then, the CMFD ambulance follows CARE to the hospital so they can pick up the CMFD paramedic to return to the fire station.
This makes no sense. Why use state-of-the-art ambulances for taxi service? Why isn’t the city using its own modern, fully equipped ambulances for patient transport?
After all, we paid for them.
In addition, CARE has higher employee turnover than the CMFD. Our personnel have minimal turnover and train continuously. As a result, they work together seamlessly. There is a high degree of dedication among CMFD personnel who take pride in serving Costa Mesa.
If you’re in the back of an ambulance you want an experienced, well-coordinated team taking care of you.
Aside from using an inefficient system, the city is needlessly losing out on potential revenue. Transport is not free; CARE profits handsomely from it.
CARE is a subsidiary of the Danish conglomerate Falck. It makes more sense to direct this revenue stream to Costa Mesa for the support of our own equipment and personnel.
During the Jan. 19 meeting, the City Council reviewed an independent study conducted by experts in the field. They presented four options that clearly showed if the CMFD provides all hospital transport the city could receive up to $4 million in cost recovery.
If they chose a hybrid model with the city providing advanced life support, and the private contractor providing less-critical transport, the city would receive $2 million to $2.5 million in cost recovery.
Either is more efficient than the status quo model.
We are still hoping that Costa Mesa City Council will reconsider and choose the option that provides the best care for the residents with the most revenue to the city. Costa Mesa should implement full CMFD hospital transport.
When it does, Costa Mesa will have the most-dedicated and competent paramedics caring for the community in our own taxpayer-purchased ambulances. This will greatly improve the efficiency of the current emergency medical delivery system — and it will pay for itself.
ROBIN LEFFLER is president of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government.