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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Team Tom Is Looking to Privatize EMT/Ambulance Service In the Great State of Nampa

The relationship with Canyon County Paramedics and the city of Nampa has been less than cordial over the past few years. It is about to become a legal battle paid for by all Canyon County taxpayers. EMSS is the new legislation package that will go to the Idaho Legislature. (EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES SYSTEM)

THE GUARDIAN has learned that Team Tom and Fire Fighters of Nampa are looking at Rural Metro Corporation out of Scottsdale, Arizona to provide ambulance service for the city of Nampa.

Research on Rural Metro reveals that they come in as a private entity and kickback money to the cities where they operate. (City of San Francisco gets $400K/year kicked back.) Team Tom and the Fire Crew have been at odds over the years with Canyon County Paramedics and it appears to be heading toward an all out battle at taxpayer expense when they finally make the move to withdraw from Canyon County Paramedic Services.

The plan as reported to THE GUARDIAN has the fair city of Nampa withdrawing from the County Program in much the same fashion they did with the Animal Control War. A move that may not have been a good financial choice given the capitalization costs, new payroll and benefit costs, vehicles, insurance, etc. now borne by the taxpayers of Nampa.

The Canyon County Paramedic program got started back in the mid-1970's. Ambulance service in the early days was usually provided by local Funeral Homes. Next, two private ambulance companies, Canyon Ambulance and Twin Cities Ambulance services operated until they went bankrupt around 1973.

Back in the day fire fighters were approached about taking on this responsibility. Fire guys response was, they fight fires and would not be ambulance/paramedic guys on top of what they were already doing. The problem continued to fester and people died needlessly. Folks in the cites managed to get themselves to hospital emergency rooms and the country folks either got their on their own or died. The mortuary people and the two private ambulance operators got tired of not getting paid for "dry runs" where they were summoned for service but the "client" had managed to get to the ER via some other means. This situation forced the creation of property taxpayer supported Canyon County Paramedics.

Every property taxpayer pays into the Canyon County Paramedic taxing district and all was well until a few years ago. As it stands in today's world Fire Guys all over the country don't have all that much to do for most of their working hours. Fire codes and modern building methods have taken actual fire fighting way, way down from what it was years ago. What to do now?

Where I live we now get to pay for two entities to show up at 911 emergency calls. Canyon County Paramedics and the Caldwell Fire Dept. When it takes minutes to get to the emergency, seconds can count when a life threatening emergency 911 call is placed. This keeps the fire guys statistics for service up and more than a few folks this side of the lawn. However, all of the transporting to hospital ER's is done by Canyon County Paramedics. Nampa wants to have a "do over" and garner the taxes paid by Nampa citizens into the city coffers. They want their Fire Guys and Rural Metro to take care of Nampa 911 medial calls and ambulance services.

The move to RURAL METRO CORPORATION for EMS Ambulance service, if allowed to move forward, does not bode well for any of us. The Great State of Nampa, if they pull this maneuver off, will end up costing everyone in Canyon County more money. Additionally, Rural Metro will kick back a "franchise fee" to the city of Nampa at our expense. Team Tom ends up with more money in the city treasury to spend.

The same war is about to start in Boise. A visit to the Boise Fire Fighter Union website references a trip to Salem, Oregon to check out Rural Metro service in that area.


  1. I think you have some more research to do there team Paul. You may start at Canyon County Paramedics and evaluate there disfunctional leadership cadre, and then take a close look at there medical director ( if you can call her that) Let me know what you find out. O by the way do explain how Nampa moving away from the current system to a private one will cost the taxpayer more?? I think you have some homework to do.

  2. There are numerous issues wwith privatizing EMS, a detailed look shos many "model systems" that are actually quite dysfunctional below the surface. More so that the issues we have here in Canyon county.

    I would recomend people take a look at for their discussion on this.

    That is why the King County Medic One system, wich does use privates...only uses them for low acuity calls, and reserves (for many reasons) the high acuity calls for the "Medic One" ambulances only...because when seconds count, so does quality , relaibility, competence, and integrity.
    Things that often get compromised when the bottome line is ..well..the bottome line.

  3. I agree that you have a little more research to do. If you would take a second and actually get some facts, you would see that the Fire-based EMS/partnership is actually a major benefit to the citizens of Canyon & Ada County. Rural Metro does pay for the ability to transport here in the county, but amazingly they will do it for about half the cost (one of many reasons that Ada and Canyon County are up in arms, I'm sure). Also, they are under contract which spells out minimum coverage levels, maximum response times(financial penalties for delayed responses), minimum training for entry level as well as on-going training, training WITH the Fire Departments, mandatory cooperation with other EMS/Fire Agencies (another sore spot with the counties), etc.
    I think that if you want to compare a system to another, DON'T use King County Medic One! Talk about God complexes! Makes our county problems seem like VERY small potatoes!
    I think that you should justify the comments on how it costs the taxpayers more money when RM is paying the city to be here, charging much less for the same level of care (spelled-out in the contract), and the FD is already covered in the taxes that are already being paid. Don't see any increases there!
    If you want to make any comparisons, look country wide. In the past, the County Ambulance/City Fire/Rural Fire system has not been successful overall. One of our neighbors - the great state of Washington has a huge population of Fire based EMS services that use privates under contract. They are very successful and the level of service is superb overall. I will state that I am sure that "overall" is a broad statement and there are probably examples for both. But as an experienced EMS/Fire provider, I have WORKED both systems and the combined service - Fire-based EMS is by far the best system.

  4. Personally, I would like to thank Mayor Dale and the entire Nampa Fire Department. I am a senior citizen on a fixed income and it is very hard to decide how I will spend the $6.72 that I have left at the end of the month. Should I buy the Aspirin that my doctor says might prevent another stroke or should I live in luxury and turn my thermostat up to 65? It is so hard to decide. Luckily, I can just give that extra money to the Fire Department so I can get really bad medical care and the stroke that I will probably have because I can't afford my aspirin will kill me!
    Thanks but no thanks, Tommy!

  5. First, let me say that if the PATIENTS and the TAXPAYERS are unhappy with their county ambulance services, it is absolutely their right to take that dissatisfaction to their county commissioners and make changes in their service or hire a new service. When it is the city fire department who is unhappy (primarily because there is a tax dollar somewhere in the universe that is not allocated to the fire department), they do not have the right to entertain “offers” from private companies to line their own pockets at the expense of taxpayers who don’t even know what is happening. This is the ultimate insult to the taxpaying public. We didn’t elect you and we don’t need you to go out and do the jobs of the people that we did elect. This is perhaps the greatest example of taxation without representation that I have ever seen.

    With regard to Rural Metro, you can certainly claim that it will benefit the fire departments to have them here. I don’t think it is very honest to claim that it will benefit the patients. If there is anyone who honestly believes that their healthcare needs are best served by a for-profit company from another state, please view a few of the following links regarding rural metro:

    This is a corporation that did not meet its contracted response times even one month last year in Knox County, TN. It was fined every single month of the year and this trend has continued throughout 2008. This included a man having a stroke who waited 48 minutes for an ambulance! Why are they not meeting their response times? Simple. It is cheaper to pay $220,000 in fines per year and default on your contract than it is to adequately staff that county and provide a reasonable standard of care.

    This is also a corporation that paid one million dollars last year to settle a billing fraud case with the federal government.

    I am glad that a few of you are inspired by Rural Metro or a fire-based system. I doubt you would leave your posh job to actually work for Rural Metro. Just don’t try to tell me that you are doing me any favors by hiring them to come here and let me lie on the floor for 48 minutes while I’m having my stroke and then send me a fraudulent bill.

    By the way, how many of my tax dollars have already been spent for NFD to “research” this brilliant plan?

  6. There are several big questions needing addressed within Ada and Canyon Counties: 1)Why are the local Fire departments making such a big deal of EMS transport recently? Could it be that they're frightened of the proposed EMSS legislation? 2)What are the budgets of the Fire departments vs the respective County ambulance service? Please group them into 1 number so there is a County Fire vs County Ambulance comparision. 3)Where are the numbers for continued education (training)and how do they compare? People have mentioned a Paramedic is a Paramedic is a Parmedic. That being the case, I would want the one better trained and most experienced. 4)What happened to the Blue Ribbon Task Force information. All said, you will likely find EMS personnel are all for consolidation under 1 Public Service System. However, all the Fire departments have fought this due to political reasons. No one wants to give up anything. 5)Duplication of service-It should be noted that during the Sweetwater Fire incident 911 service did not stop. Who provided it? 6)Response times-In the recent 6-7 car tragedy on I-84 dispatch times show whom shows up quickly. Also, with over 26 fire personnel, why did it take 3 hours and 55 minutes for the last patient to be extricated? Or some 39 minutes before the first recorded water was sprayed on the Sweetwater Fire? This information is available as public records and on the internet. As a taxpayer I am upset at our local Fire departments. I could write a considerable more about FTO programs, QA/QI process (or lack there of), opinions within the medical community, and multipe incidents with dates, place, times, and names. I hope that the Fire departments mellow out before they open a can of worms that will come back to haunt them. Let's try to: 1) Get along 2)Do what's best for the patient and taxpayers 3)Let the proposed EMSS legislation deal with the 'other' issues facing Fire and EMS.

  7. As to whom Team Tom is....
    If this is relation to Tom Allen--(Nampa Fire), then I personally believe he would be violating his current position in the EMSS system discussions as a steering member and should be removed.

    If this is Tom Dale--Mayor of Nampa, then I hope he will remember this when it comes time for re-election. Like Beiter and DeWeerd, he will need to fess up to the taxpayers for the decisions made.

  8. If Rural/Metro does such great job at such a low cost. Maybe we as taxpayers should look into getting Rural/Metro to provide private fire coverage. As Rural/metro's website boasts "- the nation's leading private sector fire protection provider." If fire service were privatized there would be no contract negotiation with unions. Therefore bigger piece of the pie for Police, Park and Recreation, roads, sewer, water, community events, and lots of improvements the cities could provide.

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