WARREN — Warren Fire Department ambulances can now be used to transport patients in Roseville, and vice-versa, under a pact labeled the first of its kind between the neighboring south Macomb County suburbs.
Members of the Warren City Council voted 7-0 July 9 to sign off on the deal, setting up the agreement for future inter-city emergency medical transport operations when needed through the respective fire departments of Warren and Roseville.
Warren Fire Chief David Frederick told council members the deal with another municipality for Warren was the first of its kind, although the city has long maintained mutual aid agreements with private ambulance companies for transport services.
Under Mayor Jim Fouts, the Warren Fire Department resumed its own in-house EMS transport program through the Fire Department in January 2010, nearly six years after former Mayor Mark Steenbergh shut the program down amid a flurry of budget cuts.
After the city scuttled the program in 2004 and mothballed its fleet of ambulances, Warren relied solely on private EMS transport service. Private transport companies, including the Universal Macomb Ambulance Service, have augmented Warren’s in-house EMS program since it was brought back three years ago, along with a fleet of new frontline ambulances operated by the Warren Fire Department.
Frederick said the city is currently operating “right at capacity” for EMS runs, with five frontline transport rigs and two reserve ambulances. He said the city is in the process of licensing the city’s heavy rescue response truck as an advanced live support “echo unit,” which would enable it to respond to medical runs. The department also plans to use an additional 18 new firefighters afforded under a federal grant through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program to deploy a sixth frontline ambulance.
The terms of the agreement would allow Warren to transport patients in Roseville and vice-versa as needed in situations that would not significantly jeopardize each city’s ability to function within its own borders.
Frederick said he believed the addition of a sixth transport rig would actually decrease the need for mutual aid from Roseville or a private company, but that the city could stand to gain revenue from transporting patients outside of the city through EMS billing.
He estimated Warren would pick up between 100 and 200 medical runs a year with crews heading into Roseville.
“It benefits the citizens of Warren. It gives us the opportunity for more medic trucks to bring in in our city, and also, with the SAFER grant firefighters and with the sixth medic truck, it provides some more money into the city, too,” Frederick said.
Responding to District 2 City Council member Keith Sadowski’s questions about billing, Frederick said Roseville residents would be billed for transport services provided by the Warren Fire Department. Likewise, he said Warren residents would be billed for services provided by the Roseville Fire Department, just as patients in Warren are billed when transported by a private ambulance company.
Under Warren’s billing model, the city accepts whatever amount paid by the insurance company of patients who live and work in the city as payment in full for transport services provided by the Warren Fire Department. Patients who do not live or work in Warren are billed by the city through its billing contractor for any amount not covered by insurance.
The city’s priority dispatch plan is designed to send Warren Fire Department medics and transport rigs to handle the most serious runs when available.
District 5 Council member Robert Boccomino said he supported the plan as an “opportunity” for the city to increase its revenue and to show state officials it can expand services beyond its own borders.
“I’d hate to slam the door that could open lots of revenue, not to mention opportunities down the road if other cities have to scale back,” Boccomino said. “Their loss could be our gain.”
The Roseville City Council had yet to vote on the plan at press time. Consideration was expected to come at their meeting July 23.
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