Board considers options if city splits from ambulance contract

GARRISON WELLS Updated: February 4, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: February 4, 2013

The agency that governs ambulance services in El Paso County on Wednesday will hear from an industry expert from Arizona as it faces the possibility of a split in the region’s ambulance contracts.

Jon Altmann, owner of The Public Safety Research Group of Phoenix, will talk to the El Paso County Emergency Services Agency board about changes in the industry during its regular meeting at 2 p.m.

Altmann helped the board with the original request for proposals for ambulance service, said Sallie Clark, El Paso County commissioner and ESA board member.

“We want to know if we have to do an RFP what it would cost and how long it would take,” she said.

Also part of the discussion will be the potential impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

“We trying to be prepared no matter what happens — to make sure that we have advanced planning in place to pick up the pieces,” Clark said. “I think we’re all very concerned.”

Questions continue to swirl around the city’s separate negotiations with American Medical Response, the county’s ambulance service provider.

Colorado Springs accounts for the the largest piece of ESA’s ambulance service area, which includes eight municipalities and multiple fire departments. When extension of the present contract came due in summer 2012, it was approved by the ESA board and El Paso County, but the city balked.

The city’s approval is necessary to extend the contract, which ends Dec. 31.

Everything has been put on hold while the city works out its own deal for ambulance service, which it will unveil to the board Feb. 12.

That has left the ESA board uncertain what a future deal might look like and scrambling to ensure that other members of the agency will have ambulance service in the event the deal Colorado Springs comes up with is not acceptable to other parts of the county.

Altmann will be able to answer some of the board’s questions.

He specializes in fire, emergency medical services, emergency planning and homeland defense and urban threat consulting. He was a senior chief intelligence specialist for the Navy and a former executive at one of the nation’s top three ambulance companies.

In related action, the board at its last meeting unanimously approved a budget amendment to take funds from the RFP reserve fund.

That amendment will “allow the ESA to retain outside assistance for any potential RFP process in 2013,” according to board notes.

The amendment was needed because in its 2013 budget, the ESA had anticipated renewing the present ambulance service contract without a hitch and didn’t think it would need to do an RFP.

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