Standing For A Safer Jamestown
Last year, our fire department alone responded to over 5,000 calls for service, of which approximately 4,000 of those calls were for emergency medical services. No matter the time or day, they came to save a life or get someone to the hospital. Regardless of the problems our City faces, they show up. But how did we get to the point of dangerous low staffing levels and a backup ambulance service that has slowly become the only one immediately available in our City?
We can place the blame on all kinds of factors from changes in state law, to lack of money, to overall mismanagement, but how does that help us get to a safer Jamestown? How does that assist us in solving our immediate problems? It doesn’t.
You may have heard the answer is to reboot the City-wide ambulance service, hiring our own patient transporters, EMTs, and paramedics. I believe that is short-sighted, and as reports from City Hall have shown, will result in a loss of revenue and cut into our general reserve funds. If we can’t afford to pay our police and fire under a prior negotiated contract, we won’t be able to fund such a service.
I want to ensure we have solutions to ensure the safety of our residents and our City employees. The most immediate step is dealing with the need for an ambulance service, when our private provider is out of service more than in. As a region, we cannot continue to constantly rely on our fire departments (both professional and volunteer) to be the primary provider of ambulance service. We must work with the County to develop solutions that serve the needs of our area.
However, if WCA Services (Alstar) is not serving the needs of our City residents, then it’s time for the City to find a private ambulance provider that will. Specifically, a provider that is going to have at least two ambulances, one for transports and another dedicated to providing services within our City.
On top of all of this, we haven’t billed Medicaid and other private insurance companies a single dime for providing medical transport services, even though it is allowed under State law. Other municipalities smartly reinvest those funds in to ambulance or fire truck maintenance, repair, and new purchases.
Getting the right people together to solve these problems is what I plan to do as Mayor. It is not rocket science, it’s putting the pieces together to ensure our City is safe and taking care of every person who wants to call Jamestown home.
Eddie Sundquist is a Jamestown attorney and former educator. He is running for Mayor of the City of Jamestown.