City Sends Out Proposal Requests For EMS Coverage

P-J file photo by Jordan W. Patterson

City officials have officially requested proposals from ambulance service businesses to provide EMS coverage in Jamestown.

On Monday, the request for proposals were sent out, according to city officials. On Tuesday, Eddie Sundquist, Jamestown mayor, told The Post-Journal that city officials did meet with Alstar EMS, which is a division of UPMC Chautauqua, to discuss EMS service in the city, about their working relationship.

Last month, Sundquist announced that Alstar had notified the city that it would be ending its agreement for EMS services with the city at the beginning of April.

“We did meet with Alstar. They provided us with some information in regard to their operations. They told us they’re not pulling (EMS service) out of the area,” Sundquist said.

“They are having trouble accommodating the EMS calls they receive. They’re having issues retaining staff for EMS operations. Our agreement will be ending in April, but both agreed to continue working with one another. We want to have a good relationship with UPMC.”

Cecil Miller, UPMC vice president of operations, echoed the same comments stating that Alstar EMS is not closing.

“There is no truth to the rumors that we are going out of business on April 1,” Miller said. “Actually, we have made some good strides with the employees. We are better staffed than a few months ago. We plan to stay in the EMS business. The only change is the agreement with the city. We sent them a notice that we are canceling that contract. The effective date is April 4. We did sit down with the mayor and discussed options. We will continue a dialogue with the city. Our end goal is how to best serve the city.”

Last month, Miller told The Post-Journal that UPMC canceled its EMS services agreement with the city because the contract was more than 20 years old. The previous agreement was signed in the mid-1990s.

“The contract dates back to 1996. We felt it’s time to update it,” Miller said last month.

Sundquist said Alstar has been encouraged to submit a proposals to the city. The deadline for proposals for EMS service is March 11.

“There are no secrets. We told (Alstar/UPMC) we are looking at an RFP. We told them to apply, but we have also received requests from other ambulance services,” Sundquist said. “We want it to be a competitive process to meet our needs here in Jamestown.”

Sundquist said he cannot comment on the names of the other companies that have shown interest in providing EMS service in the city. However, he did say two companies that have the ability to operate in Western New York have shown interest.

On Sunday, there was a meeting of local volunteer fire departments in the city. Sundquist said he was only able to stay a short time for the meeting because he was scheduled to attend the New York Conference of Mayors winter meetings in Albany. However, before he left, Sundquist was able to talk to area volunteer fire departments about the service they have provided in the city.

“I was there to thank the volunteer companies that have provided mutual aid assistance to us,” he said. “The tone of the meeting was to get all of these companies together to work toward solving the problem of what to do if Alstar doesn’t respond and what do we do to keep EMS service in the area.”

Alstar EMS has been responding to fewer EMS calls in the city for more than a year. During Sundquist’s State of the City address, he said when Alstar first started in the city during the mid-1990s, the city’s fire department was only responding to around 50 calls for EMS service a year. He said last year, the fire department responded to more than 1,000 ambulance service calls.

In September 2019, Harry Snellings, Jamestown Police Department chief and city public safety director, said when comparing the first six months of calls in 2018 to 2019, the Jamestown Fire Department increased its calls for service by 52.3% and mutual aid from outside city departments increased by 135%.