Steamboat City Council delays action on ambulance privatization

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council delayed action Tuesday after a discussion about whether to submit bids for a private company to operate ambulance services in and around the city.

Privatizing ambulance service was part of a nearly three-hour discussion about fire-related issues. Council members also heard a presentation from a consultant who evaluated the city’s fire and emergency services, including the relationship with the rural Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District, which contracts services from the city.

City Council member Cari Hermacinski supported issuing a request for proposals for private ambulance service. Other members resisted even though former Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said the city was ready to request bids.

DuBord said she has met with two companies that are responsible for 95 percent of the private ambulance services in the state. She said the companies have visited Steamboat and are willing to submit bids.

The fire protection district and Yampa Valley Medical Center also could submit bids.

DuBord said her research indicated that Steamboat was attractive to the companies because 66 percent of ambulance fees were recouped, higher than typical Front Range collection rates of about half.

Deputy City Manager Deb Hinsvark said what isn’t paid is subsidized by the city’s general fund, which also supports other funds that are intended to be self-supporting.

City Council members Sonja Macys and Kevin Kaminski said the city should wait until after it gets the reports it requested from Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Ron Lindroth and the rural district’s board of districts to respond to the consultant. Council members also asked for salary information and asked how it compared with similar departments in similar communities, which wasn’t included in the consultant’s report.

Lindroth said an informal salary survey he did using 2010 figures indicated that Steamboat’s emergency responders are paid 12 to 35 percent less than at similar departments.

Hinsvark said a college intern who will start next week will conduct a salary survey of all city departments and could start with the fire department.

The consultant recommended that the city and district reach an agreement to collaborate as one entity that uses demand-based staffing and volunteer workers to cut costs that would be paid by a city and district property tax to relieve the burden on the city’s general fund.

City Council members weren’t ready to support those suggestions and wanted more information, which will be presented Feb. 7.

Comments

Lisa Watts 2 years, 9 months ago

I will say it again.

Until you need them; it is really easy to consider paper, slash budgets and out source the heart of our community first responders who have dedicated and given so much to us.

Privatization? Not worth it, there is no comparison.

I'll be there on the 7th. So will my little girl; thanking Chief Lindroth, Lt. Arce, all the local hero's who live, work, dedicate and serve right here, in our community every day. 12-35% less? Am I truly the only one who is completely ashamed of that? Perhaps the City Council wouldn't mind if the emergency needs of their families and loved ones were the 12-35% of calls our first responders aren't paid enough to take...

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Doug Marsh 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm sure Cari Hermacinski and Rob Douglas won't be happy until all City services are contracted out. Go Teaparty. Such arrogance.

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spidermite 2 years, 9 months ago

Wouldn't it be beneficial for a private company to employ our qualified locals? If their pay scale is 12-35% higher that would be great. If their bid is less then what were paying now that's even better. I don't understand all the drama Lisa.

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Kristopher Hammond 2 years, 9 months ago

They could probably get closer to 100% recoup if they adopted a "pay or die" policy.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 9 months ago

The true costs eventually come out through entitlements, and that is where we are in trouble across the country. Privitization would eliminate this sleeping dog.

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Kristopher Hammond 2 years, 9 months ago

We're not gonna check for vital signs until we've checked for cash or credit cards! This is America, pay or die!

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

Why do so many believe that the private sector is inherently greedy, corrupt and selfish but that the same species (humans) placed in government, the biggest monopoly of all, somehow become altruistic, benevolent, wiser, more professional and more capable of saving lives???

I find it ammusing that so many pseudo-intellectuals believe taking profit out of an enterprize enhances its efficiency when all accounts of history completely contradict that notion. I would personally find it insulting to be accused of not caring as much about saving someone's life just because my paycheck didn't come from a government agency.

And as for Ms Watts, well, all I can say is that, with all due respect, you do not sound like a Tea Party type to me. You sound like a typical big-government conservative that gives lip-service to freedom but wouldn't recognize true freedom if it smacked you in the mouth.

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bandmama 2 years, 9 months ago

"OH PLEASE... give me CPR, after I show you my insurance card!!!!" Private companies do NOT give the best of care, nor do they hire locals or provide care. From my humble experience...11 yrs hosp.. (another state.) It really does boil down to the dollar in the pocket instead of "OMG!!!! This person needs help... " Nope not gonna provide links, or info, educate yourselves. Local response is just that, local and getting there, in time. I prefer to appreciate the NOT for profit YVRMC providing services they have, seemingly taken so much pride in. When that ends??? We are better off waiting for Flight for Life from Denver. Sled? Money DOES talk, and I find it amusing that you dont see that. Local caring "='s" better care RIGHT now, without checking someones "green" (IE: Insurance) card. I cant believe I am..GULP...taking sides with Ms. Watts (whom I have little respect for her views on the whole) but her personal experience with LOCAL caring residents did, I hope...give her insight to being a local parent and I hope that those she has bashed so shamelessly has given her a little appreciation for local view points on many local issues and the Locals in general. We "aint" all that bad and we do generally (mostly) care deeply for our neighbors. (NOT that I believe that she is a real....LOCAL, just appreciates the good things as they come to her..advantage..) Ok, let the insults and sh*t begin........

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spidermite 2 years, 9 months ago

bandmama, Some folks don't want to spend their money on medical insurance. Their attitude seems to be they won't be refused care so why pay. I don't want to be responsible for their bills. Why wouldn't private companys hire experienced locals? That would be the most cost effective plan for them. If the same service can be provided for less money I'm all for it.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

I can't believe you are (gulp) taking sides w/ Ms. Watts either, bandmama. I have been on that flight for life you speak of. Seemed pretty professional to me. I have nothing but praise for YVRMC. I believe it is something every person in this valley can be proud of.

Some day someone is going to take a long hard look at what Spidermite and so many others brush up against but repeatedly walk right past. That is a topic for a big, big book. Premis goes like this...

As society makes more and more things its responsibility; as it supposedly relieves individuals from their responsibility, it simultaneously (and proportionally) aquires the authority to direct the affairs of individuals.

For example: It is, on some level, logical for government to tell you what to eat if it is paying for your medical care, or groceries. It is very easy for government to make a case that it should have control of your cars gas mileage if it is subsidizing your fuel. It is easy for government to deny any or all of your bad habbits on the grounds that it is paying for your care.

From all indications Spidermite is not alone in wanting people to pay their own medical bills rather than having government put a gun to his/ her head and collect those unpaid bills; but it will never happen. Why?

"In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant." --Charles de Gaulle

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

Once again, Bandmama, I would ask: Why should I assume that money and power is corrupting in private, for profit business, while the same amount of money and power (or more) is somehow NOT corrupting when in the hands of the same species (humans) who make up government??? Why is the propensity for waste, fraud, abuse, neglect, stupidity reduced by taking away ones profit?

Most people who got rich in the private sector found ways to make better products cheaper and thus more affordable and more available for more people. Most people who got rich in government did the EXACT OPPOSITE.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 9 months ago

Government employees are generally not risk takers. It is impossible to have a society where everyone has a guarantee, hence the private sector must participate to bring matters into reality.

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Kristopher Hammond 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, those Omaha Beach, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and WTC government employees were a real embarrassment. If there had only been some corporate profit on the line they could really have accomplished something!

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bandmama 2 years, 9 months ago

Spider-hi ya friend! next, my issue with a private company comes from personal experience. Private companies tend not to care as deeply for fellow members of the community and where was anything said in the article about hiring the locals who are already here and as stated by, GULP Ms Watts (sled here is a response) that have done and continue to do a FANTASITC job? In my personal experiences, the hosp I worked for, did go private and hired not locals who had been doing a great caring job, but CHEAP inexperienced first years and the level of care went WAY down. And Sled, that was a HUGE GULP...but the only intelligent thing I have heard coming from that orafice was her compliments on the excellent care her daughter got from these caring hardworking UNDERPAID individuals. If we fly a baby home from Denver in excess of 30 grand, which is what the hosp did, free of charge to the parents why not pay our own hard working folks a few dollars more? While I am very glad the babe got to come home, the child was getting excellent care in Denver and from I understand and I could be wrong on my facts, could have waited another week to make it safely to Steamboat by Ambus, not a flight, that "we", those of us who do pay for medical coverage and those pesky little fees that insurance does not cover, paid for out of pocket to YVMC the local "not for profit" hospital.

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bandmama 2 years, 9 months ago

To continue on another little rant. I am in no way saying that government should take over my care, but there are guidelines that have to be met that private companies dont have to when you sign that little release of liability form. you die, WHOOPS! You release them from any form of responsibility for careless endangerment. Is govenment in my health care something I want? No. But until there are across the board mandatory requirements for my health care provider? We dont have a lot else to fall back on. I also have gotten NOTHING but excellent care from YVMC. I would like to continue to feel safe going there if I need to. But unless some serious thought and mandatory background checks are in place, I wont. Case in point, one of my patients was an 80 year old plus Sr. Had been in a local retirement home for YEARS and a frequent visitor in our hosp. At one point she needed to be transported to a larger facility and back home in one day by a PRIVATE ambulance company. Upon re admittance to our facility, her UA showed sperm. yes, she had been sexually assualted during her ride. This poor woman was 80 plus years old and died within two weeks. The crew transporting her? NO background checks. Just the "good word" from the company we hired to save a buck or two. Her initial problems were not life threatening and to this day I feel in my heart her last little ride for routine tests that our hospital couldn't do in house killed her. If we are guaranteed that locals are hired, and the level of care continues? Then great go for it. but until then? If it aint broke, well.... Was the company ever held liable? No, the driver and and the "EMT" both had quit before a formal investigation was even started. Left the state and the company's defense was simply that "it" could have happend any at the "other" hospital. Leagally? yes it could have, but sometimes you just get a little feeling....Give our own a raise and continue with that trust thing.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

Shawant, There WAS profit involved in those endeavors. In fact, none of them would have succeded without innovation and products from the private "for profit" sector!

Private contractors supplied most of the equipment used on Omaha Beach, as well as the space exploration and moon landings. John Browning, a private gunsmith, invented several weapons systems in the early 1900's. Some of them are still protecting U.S. soldiers TODAY in Afghanistan. Even after 100 years, no government egg-head has been able to improve on his design...

And if you really want to read a little bedtime story about how government and private sector rivalries turn out then check out the story of the R-100 and the R-101. Two airships developed simultaneously during WWII. Google it. It's a classic tale.

And this year NASA awarded millions of dollars in private contracts as it withdrew from space and closed its shuttle program. It is a well-known FACT that private, FOR PROFIT space exploration is taking over the entire sector!

Bandmama, Huge gulp, indeed.

I still have gotten NO answer to my original question: Why are humans who work for the private sector prone to corruption while humans working for government are prone to sainthood????????? Somebody please????????? Anybody???

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spidermite 2 years, 9 months ago

bandmama, Now I understand. If we retain a private ambulance service all of the current employees will lose their jobs and female patients will be raped.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

Oh Shawant, I forgot to address the WTC example; sorry.

First, just the middle name alone should say it all... it's the World TRADE Center. TRADE... TRADE.

Second, I would like to leave you with a name. Rick Rescorla. He was an employee of the evil, profit seeking, Morgan Stanley in the WTC.

When a plane struck tower 1 at 8:46 AM he began a hasty evacuation of more than 2,700 employees from twenty floors of tower 2, and over 1,000 employees of WTC 5; probably saving the lives of more people than the total death toll for that day. He did this in DIRECT DISOBEDIANCE of orders from building officials (government) to "stay put" in tower 2. He was last seen runnung UP the steps to look for more people as the building collapsed.

I'm sure I could search and find some government employee on flight 93 but, to my knowledge, those who stopped that plane from getting to the White House were all PRIVATE CITIZENS.

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bandmama 2 years, 9 months ago

Why yes Spider!!! That is EXACTLY what will happen. thank goodness you have the brains to figure this out. The only thing is, is that maybe it wont be just women. This is the age of non discrimination. WTH? Lets pander out all of our local services to money grubbing, non government, conspiracy ridden, private sectors and hope for the best. Wouldn't want to utilize any of the local resources here in the valley. Now THAT would be stupid.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

Still no answer...? What makes private sectors more "money grubbing" or "conspiracy ridden" than public sector?

"... utilize local resouces..." ? Wait, what's that I hear...? an oil rig comming down the driveway!! ... I think they are here to utilize some local resources...

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heboprotagonist 2 years, 9 months ago

This is what you get when you privatize social services. These for-profit businesses cut corners (like background checks). The patients become customers and sometimes victims.

http://www.newser.com/story/136992/woman-raped-by-paramedic-in-ambulance-cops.html

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

So no public "servants" do evil? No prison guards deal drugs? No crooked cops on the beat? No crooked politicians taking bribes?

Hebo, With respect, I think the example you give is "what we get" from a society that is breaking down, has no morals, and is not made to pay dearly for its crime. And I think we get it in ALL sectors across the board. Wasn't a former president accused by multiple women of basically the same thing?

I am not saying private sector is spotless, far from it. I'm just saying throwing a criminal over the wall into the "government" side doesn't clean them up any more than throwing a pig into a palace makes it a prince.

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Kevin Nerney 2 years, 9 months ago

Hey Fishcreek--- between your'e thirty (30) plus years and my twenty (20) years together we could work to fill Linroth's shoes if he leaves to go to Montana. Whataya think?

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