Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Burns Harbor opts out of Superior Ambulance contract

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By LILY REX

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.

The changes 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.

Three Options

* 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.

Solution?

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.

Arney previously 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 notice, mid-year.

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. Boo Road.

 

Posted 7/3/2018

 

 
 
 

 

 

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