The Town of Burns
Harbor will be ending its emergency services contract for ambulance service
with Superior effective July 16, Fire Chief Bill Arney told the
Chesterton Tribune Monday.
Last month, Arney
announced at the Town Council’s meeting that Superior Ambulance Service had
given him little notice of a proposed $450,000 change in the Town’s
contract. The reason Superior cited for the proposed change was high costs
of operation in an area with low call volume.
For three years,
Superior provided ambulance service to Burns Harbor at no cash cost to the
Town--instead, the Town provided the ambulance and fuel and housed the
ambulance staff. Superior also had exclusive rights to capture all revenue
made from calls, which their mid-year report to Arney shows was $98,000 for
the first six months of 2018.
Superior proposed last month included a monthly fee of $25,000 and exclusive
rights to the first $150,000 made from calls annually. The remainder of that
revenue would be split 50-50 between Superior and the Town. The monthly fee
amounts to Burns Harbor paying $300,000 over the course of the year. Add in
the $150,000 in revenue Superior wants to capture, and the proposed change
to the contract was $450,000.
The move to
discontinue the contract comes after representatives from Superior met with
Arney and Town Council Vice-president Eric Hull and gave the Town three
options for lowering the cost of the agreement--none of which are a good
fit, according to Arney.
* The first option
Superior gave was to have one full-time paramedic cover Burns Harbor and be
assisted by Burns Harbor EMTs at a cost of $250,000 a year. Arney said a
major concern with this arrangement was response time.
* The second option
Superior gave was that they would have a cooperative agreement where a few
ambulances in the area would have instructions to respond to Burns Harbor
calls as needed at no cost to the Town. Superior would capture all revenue
from those calls. However, no ambulances would be committed to responding to
calls from Burns Harbor or be based in town, and again that provides no
guarantee of good response times.
* The third option
Superior gave was to split service with Porter Regional. Superior would be
on call for 12 hours during the day shift, Porter Regional would take over
at night. “That did not sit well with myself or the Town, just for lack of
confusion,” Arney said.
Due to Burns
Harbor’s location, Arney said effective ambulance service must be based in
Town. “The only option is 24-hour service ready to go here in Burns Harbor.”
Arney reported he
and the Council are in talks with Porter Regional to take over service for
Burns Harbor. At last month’s Council meeting, Hull noted that Burns Harbor
is in the northernmost part of Porter Regional’s coverage area, and that
resulted in response times of up to 20 minutes for Burns Harbor proper and
up to 45 minutes for calls from ArcelorMittal when Porter Regional provided
their ambulance service in the past. However, Superior’s demands left little
room for choice, Hull said.
told the Chesterton Tribune that, given proper notice, he could run
ambulance service for the Town for just over $271,000 per year with 20 to 30
full and part-time paramedics and EMTs, but that isn’t an option on short
Arney said what’s
currently on the table is either a temporary agreement with Porter Regional,
or forming an agreement with Porter Regional similar to the one with
Superior where Porter Regional EMTs and paramedics could be based out of a
location in Burns Harbor.
Arney said members
of the public are invited to voice their opinions on the matter at the next
Town Council meeting, Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 1240 N.