As expected following Riverside County Board of Supervisor’s approval in January of a new county-wide contract for emergency ambulance service with American Medical Response, the county notified the Idyllwild Fire Protection District that its contract with the county to provide emergency ambulance service to zones 2 and 3 (Pine Cove and north and south of the fire district) will be terminated June 30.
“I fully expected this from the county since they extended the contract with AMR,” Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz told the commission at last week’s meeting.
This fiscal year, IFPD will receive almost $180,000 from Riverside County for this service. In addition, about 20 percent of IFPD’s medical transports are from these areas, which could result in a proportionate reduction in its ambulance fees or about another $60,000.
Only three months before the new fiscal year begins, Reitz said his staff is preparing a 2015-16 budget based on the potential reduction in revenue. The department currently has a vacant full-time position, which a limited-term employee is filling.
“The permanent filling of that full-time position would be in question should the reduction in ambulance service revenue become permanent on July 1, 2015,” Reitz wrote in an email.
Increasing revenue will be another option IFPD evaluates. One possible source, according to Reitz, might be “the fees for service for ambulance response and transport to bring them more in line with the region.”
In addition, he told the commission he will be scheduling a meeting with AMR to discuss zones 2 and 3, as well as other business.
In the termination letter, Bruce Barton, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Service Agency, wrote, “There is a lack of funds to continue the county’s subsidy of the services stated in the [current] agreement.”
The original agreement with the county was signed in July 2004 and has been re-negotiated and resigned twice since then.
During the meeting, Reitz reported that he and Commission President Jerry Buchanan will meet with county fire staff at the Perris dispatch center. Last year, IFPD sought bids from other dispatch services. He has told Riverside County Fire Department that IFPD will continue the dispatch contract it now has with the county.
“But we will continue to look at our options,” he added. “This is a very expensive contract and right now it’s our best option.”
In response to a question about the new ambulances, Reitz said much progress has been made preparing them for use. The California Highway Patrol will visit the station to inspect them, which is needed to get the vehicle licenses.
“Also, the logo needs to be applied before they’re on the road, but we may use a temporary one initially,” he said.
Regarding the two existing ambulances, Reitz said he was leaning toward keeping one and sending the other to surplus.
In financial news, the commission adopted the mid-year adjustment recommendations from its Finance Committee. The year-end balance would be $18,723 based on these changes.
Commissioner Nancy Layton, who chairs the Finance Committee, said she expects to have a recommendation for the vacant citizen alternate member at the April commission meeting.