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Date: Fri 03-Sep-1999



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Date: Fri 03-Sep-1999

Publication: Bee

Author: STEVEB

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Pact Protects Local Volunteer Ambulance Service


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

Danbury Hospital.

"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.

Comments are open. Be civil.

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