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Councilor 'Disappointed' at South Windsor Ambulance Corps' Response to RFP

Ambulance corps' letter says the town should seek a consultant to provide advice on the deployment of advanced life support services.

A member of the Town Council on Tuesday expressed his disappointment at the response the town received from the South Windsor Ambulance Corps regarding the town seeking requests for proposal for advanced Life Support service from ambulance providers.

Town Councilor Keith Yagaloff said at the council’s regular meeting that a letter dated Jan. 22, 2013 that was signed by the ambulance corps’ seven board of directors failed to address the town’s concerns about the level of service the town receives from South Windsor Ambulance Corps.

The letter, which Mayor Tom Delnicki read into the record, states, “Simply saying that the Town wants to have Advanced Life Support services based in the town is not enough; there are a multitude of possible deployment models which exist for the provision of Advanced Life Support services.”

Merely pursuing advanced life support will not bring the results that the town is seeking, the letter says.

The letter further states that instead of having the town issue an RFP for Advance Life Support services, the town should issue an “RFP for an independent Emergency Medical Services industry consultant to conduct a study to advise the town on the various Advanced Life Support deployment options which will best suit the community.”

Yagaloff said that this was not the approach for which he had hoped.

“I’d like to see the ambulance corps say what it will do for us to move forward for advanced life support service,” Yagaloff said.

The issue of the level of service that South Windsor’s ambulance contractor provides has been subject to debate for a number of years.

The South Windsor Ambulance Corps, the town’s primary ambulance provider, offers EMT, or basic life support, service. It does not, however, offer advanced life support - or paramedic - service.

The town currently has what is known as “paramedic intercept” in which a South Windsor Ambulance meets up with an advance life support ambulance en route to the hospital to provide advance life support, South Windsor Ambulance Corps President Larry Gorman said in an interview over the summer.

The issue was brought into sharp focus upon the death of Hannah Patrie, a 15-year-old girl who collapsed at South Windsor High School during a conditioning exercise at a dance camp last summer. Patrie lost consciousness and died.

One of the questions surrounding Patrie’s death was the response time of the town’s first responders. An Aetna ambulance that is part of the Ambulance Service of Manchester eventually brought Patrie to the hospital about an hour after the initial call came in. (While Patrie wasn’t transported to the hospital for that amount of time, she was at least being worked on by emergency personnel during that period.)

According to police and Gorman, South Windsor Ambulance Corps did not respond to the Patrie call because one of the two ambulances belonging to the SWAC was out on another call, while the other was not on the road because it was being serviced.

The cause of Patrie’s death has not yet been released by the state’s medical examiner. Attorneys representing the Patrie family have filed a notice of intent to sue the towns of South Windsor and Manchester.

The subject of whether the town should upgrade to Advance Life Support services for its ambulance corps was brought up at a Town Council meeting in March 2012.

In that meeting, Gorman said that it would cost the town between $500,000 and $700,000 to upgrade its ambulance service from basic to advance life support.

Gorman also said that South Windsor Ambulance responds to 1,600 to 1,800 calls per year. Out of those calls, about 40 percent are “advance life support calls,” Gorman said.

But at the Town Council meeting on Dec. 17, 2012, Galligan said that the town could obtain advance life support services for no additional cost. He did not elaborate how that would be done.

Peter Di Pietro January 25, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Yes, do this. It's more important than a second ice rink.
Karen Parker Kasheta January 25, 2013 at 03:13 PM
This is way overdue for the Town of South Windsor. I did an independant study in 2006 and found that it was more like 60% of the calls need ALS assistance. When I brought my concerns to the Town Manager, I was told that "the town is in the process of having praramedics trained for their amublance" I was told to "be patient, it takes time" WOW I did not realize it took SEVEN years to become a paramedic. This is wwwaaaayyyy overdue and South Windsor residents derserve to have paramedics on their ambulances. I have a note next to my ememrgency numbers that clearly states "when calling 911 for medical assistance tell the dispatcher you DO NOT WANT SOUTH WINDSOR AMBULANCE - you want a trained paramedic" I am sorry - but I have seen the diffrence between SWA and AMR - I choose AMR."
Pam Petersen January 25, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Agreed....this town is overdue for ALS services. Too often I see ASM responding to emergencies in town. I listen to my scanner most days and hear that approximately 80% to 90% of medical calls involve ALS. There are far too many seniors and sickly people living in town whether it be in their own homes, the nursing home or any of the assisted living centers that are in need of ALS care and if SWAC is unwilling or unable to provide this important service then maybe we should look to an outside providers such as ASM, East Windsor Ambulance or AMR. I recall about 7 years ago one of our own firefighters went before the Town Council with a proposal that Aetna Ambulance would station an ALS ambulance in town due to the extremely high number of ALS calls....guess nothing happened with that.
Pam Petersen January 25, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Karen, per law if you call 911 then you will receive the town's ambulance....if you want AMR you must call the police department's non emergency number and request AMR or call AMR directly and request them. SWAC holds the service agreement for all 911 calls so this is the only way, other than them not being available, to avoid having them dispatched to your emergency.
Karen Parker Kasheta January 25, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Pam , thank you for the above info - I will now post AMR/AMS phone numbers as well. WOW - 80-90% ALS calls? That has increased from the 60% I saw in 2006. Wonder where the 40% is coming from? I had also heard about the Fire Fighter approaching the council - that was about the same time I was doing my study - he was probably told the same thing I was "be patient - we are working on it"
Pam Petersen January 25, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Funny thing is Karen the firefighter to whom I am referring is a Paramedic himself, so he knows exactly what the town's need are. As I listen to my scanner I find that ALS is dispatched for all of the following calls: anything cardiac related, diabetic related, stroke, fainting, chest pain, trauma...basically everything except a "routine transport" from a nursing home to the emergency department for an evaluation of minor illness, or a witnessed fall with no other symptoms. Just take a look at how many times ASM or Aetna ambulance is following SWAC to the hospital because the paramedic is inside SWAC's ambulance providing the ALS care needed. Oh, and don't forget the TWO BILLS you will receive for care...BLS and ALS!
Karen Parker Kasheta January 25, 2013 at 04:40 PM
OMG Pam - did you read my study????? LOL - those are exaclty the details I found in 2006!!!!! And we continue to see happen weekly (if not daily) to this day! But the thing that amazes me is that our Town Officials - I have talked with at least three of them - agree that this is a needed service. Why then - does SWAC have so much authority to keep pushing it under the rug?? They are NOT paid employees of South Windsor - they are a non profit company who provides the service of emergency calls to South Windsor residents. I say it is time to fire them and hire a new company. I will now look into the "contract" we must have with them and find out why we continue to renew it. If anyone here has those details I would love to hear the details. ALso - I would like to make a clarification - South Windsor's ALS backup company is ASM - so this is the phone number I will be placing next to my phone.
keith yagaloff January 25, 2013 at 05:47 PM
SWAC provides basic services only. They have only one ambulance 24/7. They add a second ambulance Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9-4. All advanced services come from other companies out of town, usually ASM. SWAC has not provided the town with a current mutual aid agreement for advanced services or when SWAC ambulances are out of service. The SWAC tax returns can be found at http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/orgs/profile/061045810?popup=1#forms. There were large amounts of savings accumulating for a number of years. The returns show payments to the company officials and the salary payments for staff. There was a large spend down in 2011 through payments to the company officials. Perhaps SWAC can explain why they didn’t use that money to improve their coverage and service. The town council has been deeply concerned for quite a while about SWAC apparently having one of its vehicles chronically out of service for repairs. SWAC is also apparently not paying any rent at the town facility and they have refused to sign the town’s lease for that space. The town council has passed a resolution that we want advanced ambulance service for the town. Towns like Manchester and East Windsor have advanced service. SWAC can submit a proposal like anyone else.
Tom Lines January 25, 2013 at 06:36 PM
I have had the occasion to be taken to the hospital twice. On both occasions, BOTH the SW Ambulance AND The Manchester Ambulance showed up at my house. If we can pay for a large police force in town to protect our citizens, why can't we pay for even ONE paramed?? Good work, Keith. Keep it up.
Michael Sullivan January 25, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Thanks Keith for being so proactive and consistent on this very important issue. The discussons from Tues nite as well as this article don't clarify: the Town Manager has not yet put out the RFP?!? If so, why not? And ultimately if SWAC prefers to manuever at this time and does not wish to respond to an RFP then so be it - lets get an organization into Town that wants to meet our needs. But we should be prepared to pay for it. And so - lastly, if the Town Manager has not issued the RFP where is he getting info that we could obtain ALS at no additional costs? What is the story with that? I hope that there is something to back up such an assertion. Otherwise it is more time wasting and misinformation.
Karen Parker Kasheta January 25, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Keith - thank you very much for the above information. Please let me know, as a tax payer of South Windsor, if there is anything you need me to do to help the Town Council in this issue.
Pam Petersen January 25, 2013 at 09:14 PM
MIchael - Professional ambulance services (ASM, Aetna, AMR etc) DO NOT charge the towns for their services, rather they charge the patients and their Insurance carriers for the servcies, so there should be NO COST to the town to bring in another EMS provider.
Pam Petersen January 25, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Ha ha, I wish I had seen your study years ago and perhaps we, as a town, could have avoided this whole problem.!
Pam Petersen January 25, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Keith - Thank you for your update and persistence in this matter. Why hasn't SWAC been paying rent all these years? Back in 2004 I think, they went to a 24/7 paid service and they should have been charged and paid rent since then. Last I knew once they moved into the new firehouse they were to pay rent, is there anyway to force this issue now and backcharge for all those years of free rent? PS - Whenever I or anyone in my family has needed an ambulance, I drive them just over the town line to EW where we get competent ALS service!
SWRes January 26, 2013 at 05:58 PM
In reviewing the financials, why did officials recieve compensation in 2010 and 2012 but not 2011, yet overall compensation for the organazation flucuated only modestly?
Elizabeth February 13, 2013 at 09:03 PM
When does the town plan on putting out the RFP to hopefully get a commercial service in??

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