Date: Fri 03-Sep-1999
Date: Fri 03-Sep-1999
Pact Protects Local Volunteer Ambulance Service
BY STEVE BIGHAM
Town officials believe they have secured an agreement with Danbury Ambulance
that ensures the for-profit ambulance service will not attempt to transport
Newtown patients. Under the terms of a newly-signed contract, the Newtown
Volunteer Ambulance Corps will be the only transport service. Danbury
Ambulance will provide paramedic service only.
The Newtown Ambulance Corps remains vigilant in its efforts to ward off any
further threats from the for-profit medical service, which is managed by
"We are cautious but hopeful with the contract," said Newtown Ambulance Corps
chief John Basso.
Under the terms of the contract, Newtown, Redding and Bethel will receive
24-hour-a-day paramedic service for a total first-year cost of $240,385, of
which Newtown will pay 42.7 percent. The contract, delayed in its completion
by more than a month, runs from August 1, 1999 through June 20, 2002.
More important, however, is the stipulation that all paramedic responses be
made in a non-transport paramedic vehicle, known as a "flight car."
"We have no desire to have other paid ambulance services competing against
us," Mr Basso said.
For most residents, the thought of switching to a paid ambulance service might
seem ludicrous, especially with the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps logging
some of the best response times in the area. However, the threat was very real
as Danbury Ambulance was looking for an agreement where it could respond to
Newtown calls with an ambulance. The plan was supported by Dr George
Terranova, Danbury Hospital's director of emergency services, who felt the
plan would provide the medic with an option to transport the patient if the
volunteers corps is late in arriving.
In the eyes of local EMTs, though, it was an attempt to undermine the local
volunteer service. As they see it, Danbury Ambulance stood to generate a fair
amount of revenue for itself, charging as much as $450 per patient transport.
The number of calls for ambulance service in Newtown exceeds all other area
towns, except for the City of Danbury.
Newtown's paramedic service had been provided by Business Systems, Inc (BSI),
a subsidiary of Danbury Health Systems (the for-profit part of Danbury
Hospital). However, BSI did not bid as itself this year. Instead, its bid came
in as Danbury Ambulance.
The contract negotiations, headed by First Selectman Herb Rosenthal and the
first selectmen from Redding and Bethel, were long and drawn out, taking more
than a month to finalize.
"We're glad it's behind us. The contract should be suitable to all parties,
and the Newtown Ambulance Corps can now move on to new issues," Mr Basso said.