As the City of St. Louis struggles to manage an anticipated $45 million budget deficit, it is considering privatizing ambulance services. Currently the St. Louis Fire Department provides ambulance service.
The idea is in the very early stages and this week, the city put out a request for proposals - asking private ambulance companies to spell out how each would run the service for the city.
The International Association of Firefighters, Local 73 is against the idea: iaff73.org/
IAFF says the quality of care would suffer because firefighters and EMTs currently train and work closely together. A paramedic crew chief cites the recent porch collapse in St. Louis that resulted in injuries, saying that responding firefighters and EMTs were able to work together to quickly rescue the injured.
Barb Geisman, Deputy Mayor, says that the city will not consider any proposals that jeopardize quality of care. She says she is not sure what the city will decide, but that the city must look at every option to close a budget gap.
The city may also outsource billing services because a private company may be more successful in making patients and insurance companies pay for ambulance rides.
Last year, it cost the city around $13 million to run ambulances. The city only received a little less than $8 million in collections.
Currently, the city charges $585 per ambulance ride. Chris Thompson, with the IAFF, worries a private ambulance company will charge patients much more.
Proposals from ambulance companies are due by April 26th. The board of alderman will begin making decisions on the budget in May, with final decisions due by the start of the city's fiscal year (July 1).