Pekin in talks with AMT for ambulance service
Deal would make AMT the only service in town
By KEVIN SAMPIER
of the Journal Star
Posted Oct 31, 2008 @ 08:29 PM
PEKIN — Advanced Medical Transport and city administrators are working out a deal to make AMT the only ambulance service in town, and the company will pay the city for the privilege.
"We'd like to get this accomplished by the end of the year," City Manager Dennis Kief said Friday about the pending franchise agreement giving AMT an exclusive contract to provide ambulance service in Pekin.
Kief said negotiations are in the earliest stages, and the franchise agreement would benefit both parties.
Pekin and others cities commonly enter into franchise agreements with telephone, cable, water and power companies, eliminating competition for those businesses.
In exchange, companies pay cities for the privilege of being the only provider of a particular service.
"It does in fact generate a fee for the municipality," Kief said of the pending agreement, but a specific amount is still being negotiated.
Currently, AMT provides ambulance service in Pekin and pays a portion of costs incurred by the city and county dispatch center.
Kief said an agreement would also bring better efficiency because the city and AMT would share reports and could better collaborate when emergency calls are received.
"I think it's a good thing for both sides," he said.
Administrators with AMT could not be reached for comment Friday.
Mayor Dave Tebben said the agreement would be modeled after the one between AMT and Peoria.
"We're in the early stages of discussion," Tebben said, adding that he and Kief have met with AMT only once.
Tebben said the agreement could also provide city firefighters with additional training.
Kief said the city is preparing an offer to give AMT, which will then make changes and recommendations to the proposal.
The Pekin City Council will have the final say on the agreement.
"It's not yet on the agenda," Tebben said.
Kevin Sampier can be reached at 346-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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AMT wants to be the exclusive provider of ambulance service in Pekin. In Peoria for the past 15 years this has meant that Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) has been the only provider of paramedic service and transport. AMT did not want the Peoria Fire Department to be in the ambulance service.
I hope the Pekin City Council makes the right decision. Many lives depend on this.
The history of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Peoria is complex and has not been transparent. It is also shrouded in conflict of interest. And I hope that Pekin does not make the same mistakes that we have made in Peoria.
Quick history of EMS in Peoria:
An EMS region in the state of Illinois is controlled by a medical doctor. This medical doctor is called the Project Medical Director (PMD). He is the physician in charge of EMS units in municipal areas, rural areas, volunteer fire departments, and Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) based in Peoria.
This physician is employed by OSF in Peoria. This physician controls what goes on in Pekin too.
For many years the PMD in Peoria was Dr. George Hevesy. Dr. Hevesy is currently the Director of the Emergency Department at OSF and is Corporate Medical Director of AMT. He receives a salary from both OSF and AMT. AMT has been the only paramedic and transport agency in Peoria for many years.
The current Project Medical Director works for OSF and Dr. Hevesy is his boss.
The three hospitals in Peoria and Pekin Hospital all have a big interest in AMT. They all support AMT and have had hospital administrators on AMTs board.
If AMT gets the exclusive contract in Pekin, it would mean that AMT calls the shots and I believe that the Peoria based Project Medical Director is going to support AMT. I worry about what this may mean since the Peoria Fire Department has been mired at a basic level and the Peoria Fire Department doesnt even own an ambulance for transport. AMT has stated in the Journal Star that the Peoria Fire Department could not upgrade if AMT was the exclusive provider in Peoria. What kind of community service is this?
Many cities in Illinois and around the country have their EMS based out of their fire department. They often work in conjunction with transport agencies such as AMT.
Reviewing the Pekin Fire Department website reveals they have 49 firefighters and 21 of them have Intermediate or Paramedic skills to provide for Pekin when 911 is called for someone in distress. In other words, many Pekin firefighters can provide advanced skills for the patient.
People want to know that the best trained person that arrives at their home be able to help them immediately. When the Pekin Fire Department arrives at the scene of a medical emergency and they have paramedic/firefighters with them, these paramedic/firefighters should be able to provide emergent care right away. For many years in Peoria, the Peoria firefighter/paramedics have NOT been able to provide this service for Peorians. The patient had to wait until AMT arrived to receive advanced care. How many lives were lost with this policy?
This is a highly political issue. Physicians are afraid to speak out in support of the most appropriate care for the 911 patient because of all of the business and hospitals that support AMT.
The Pekin City Council will get inundated by people that support AMT. However, these same people may be looking at the business side of medicine and not the compasionate side. We can only hope that the Pekin City Council makes the right decision for the people of Pekin and that conflict of interest does not get in the way as it has in Peoria.
John A. Carroll, M.D.