Kudos and thanks to five Toledo City Council members who voted against having government take over a portion of the private ambulance services in our city!
Republicans Joe Birmingham, Rob Ludeman, George Sarantou, and Betty Shultz along with Democrat Ellen Grachek cast no votes on this ordinance which would allow our Fire Department to lease ambulances and provide basic life support services on 9-1-1 calls.
More information on this vote is available in this Blade story, but lacking in all the stories is the impact of taking these fire fighters out of service for the ambulance runs.
The City estimates that this decision will gain them about $600,000 this year and up to $1.2 million next year...additional revenue they say is needed to help balance our budget deficit of almost $11 million.
The logic some of the other members of council used to justify the vote was 'continuity of care.' Under this process, the same people who provide the emergency service will also be the ones transporting to the hospital. And yes, there is an aspect of 'continuity' for the individual who is injured or ill.
However, by using these fire fighters to transport, they are no longer available for other emergency runs nor for fighting fires and that results in a lack of continuity of service for everyone else.
The ambulance companies said that, based upon the location of the city-owned ambulances (in the more affluent areas of the city), they could lose up to 40% of their business. MedCorp President Richard Bage said he may move his headquarters and 300-employee payroll out of the city. The claims of loss of business ring true considering the impact of the City's decision to take over tow operations from private companies in 2005. That venture was supposed to net the city about a half a million dollars a year, but no one has publicized the financials on this - probably because it didn't measure up to projections.
Before Council voted on this, you'd think they'd want to know of the last government takeover of private business resulted in the projected revenue...but not in Toledo.
Toledo is losing people and businesses. Our mayor and council have said that they want to be a place that people and businesses want to come and grow. But their actions speak louder than their words - and people and businesses are hearing them loud and clear.