City Mayor: Staffing, New Ambulance Are Linked

Mayor Eddie Sundquist believes the addition of eight firefighters to the city will help the city navigate its goal of launching a second ambulance service in Jamestown.

Sundquist told The Post-Journal that he was “proud” to have been able to secure almost $2 million under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant funding, which he believes has the potential to “make the city safer” with an additional eight firefighters. According to Sundquist, the eight additional firefighters would be “fully funded” for three years through the SAFER grant. He added that the city was able to secure a waiver to remove any potential “strings” that would require the city to contribute to the cost of the grant.

“I would say that hiring eight new firefighters that are going to be fully funded on a federal grant is really a no brainer,” he said. “We’re fully funded now for three additional years, and in that timeframe, not only will we be able to run a second ambulance, but for the first time in decades, we will have all of our fire stations open. We currently close one fire station each shift, so this will be monumental for just a protection of our residents here in Jamestown.”

While there have been multiple discussions over the past year pertaining to the possibility of a second ambulance, Sundquist explained that the city has been working through a long process with the union to approve a labor agreement that would provide staffing for a second ambulance.

“Ambulances can really only be run when there’s a proper number of firefighters on staff that can handle both fires and ambulance service, so we are still undergoing those conversations with the union on how to best properly staff the ambulance, and we hadn’t moved forward with purchasing an ambulance,” he said.

With the addition of eight firefighters under the SAFER grant, Sundquist said the city will be able to have the “proper number” of firefighters and EMS workers to run the second ambulance without having to approve a labor agreement to staff a second ambulance under the city’s current situation of potentially insufficient staffing numbers.

According to Sundquist, the city is currently in the process of putting out a request for proposal for a potential second ambulance.

“Unfortunately, ambulances have to be built to spec, so we typically put out a very detailed RFP process,” he said. “We’ve already had conversations with a variety of vendors that have come in and given us some information about prospective ambulances.”

Once the city is able to finalize a request for proposal, Sundquist said the next step will be to allocate funding for the ambulance. Currently, the city’s plan is to allocate American Rescue Plan Act funding to cover the full cost of the ambulance, which Sundquist said will cost roughly $250,000. While Sundquist said the exact cost of the ambulance could “fluctuate slightly” based on the request for proposal, based on conversations his administration has had with potential vendors, he said it is the “median price.” The City Council would have to approve the allocation of ARPA funding once it is proposed by the city administration.

Sundquist also explained that the city’s decision to implement ambulance service billing roughly two years ago has created a source of revenue the city had traditionally lacked in previous years. Although the city’s ambulance billing service was not “fully up and running” until last year due to the city waiting for licensure numbers from Medicare and Medicaid, Sundquist said the city received “just over $300,000” in EMS billing funds in 2022 as the city’s first full year of billing.

“By running a second ambulance, we don’t anticipate that’s going to double, but we do anticipate that it will add to that number,” he said. “You might be looking at somewhere around $400,000 to 450,000 in revenue, potentially more. We’re just not sure with a second ambulance, but they’re certainly a need. We have seen obviously ALSTAR or WCA continues to remain out of service at various periods, so there is still very much a need for a second ambulance service here in the city.”

With the additional revenue collected through EMS services, Sundquist said the money will be able to directly aid the fire department with the cost of employment and the purchase of equipment that is needed for the daily operation of the Jamestown Fire Department. He believes the new source of revenue will continue to grow as the city expands EMS services, especially with the potential addition of a second ambulance.

Sundquist also told The Post-Journal that the city only collects money from insurance companies for EMS services.

“We do not collect on individual people,” he said. “We do bill individuals whatever their copay may be, but we do not collect on those bills. We just take what we get from insurance. Some people do come in and pay, but we don’t send anyone to collections or things like that. It’s just whatever we make from insurance.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today