Exactly how much would save is unknown, but officials there are researching the possibility of privatizing ambulance services to reduce costs in the South Shore Fire Department.
Trustee Jerry Garski first started looking into the idea a few months ago, after it was revealed that .
The primary reason for the overage is that two full crews of three are staffed at Station 9 in as part of the villages' 2009 consolidation agreement. or risk having some of the 2012 payment withheld. As of Feb. 20, six firefighters have been stationed in Sturtevant for all shifts every day, bringing the total number of firefighters on duty each shift to 15 when only 12 were budgeted.
"We have to do something to get these costs under control," Garski said. "And it might turn out that this research shows us a private ambulance service won't work, but we have to start thinking outside the box."
Garski said any potential private service would have to keep service levels just as high by staffing three paramedics on a rig to handle advanced life support calls. Firefighters still on staff, then, would remain cross-trained, but would perhaps only need EMT level education and experience to answer basic life support calls.
"We wouldn't need as many firefighters with such a high level of training," he continued. "But this isn't just about the money. We want shorter response times and no reductions in service."
William Miller, union president for South Shore, doesn't see how privatizing ambulance services would save any money since the number of fire fighters needed to provide coverage of both villages doesn't change.
"If there's a fire or an extraction needed at the scene of an accident, firefighters still respond so where's the savings?" he asked. "Milwaukee has private ambulance service, but an engine and a paramedic unit still respond then wait for the private service to transport the patient and they get the revenue. That doesn't make sense."
Miller also pointed out that private ambulance services are not part of MABAS, the mutual aid system that calls on neighboring departments to help out during emergencies that require a more comprehensive response.
Garski, though, said any private service with which the village contracts would have to be included in MABIS.
Mount Pleasant Village President Carolyn Milkie said she is unsure how a private ambulance service would benefit the village but she recongizes the need to explore the option.
"I don't feel this is an alternative for us, but it should be researched to make a determination," she said.
One way a private ambulance could help, though, would be to transport patients from the Aurora facilities on Washington Avenue to the hospital. Current procedure is that medical staff there call 911 to get an ambulance to take patients to St. Mary's.
"That is a serious waste of our resources in South Shore so I could see a benefit there," Milkie added.
Sturtevant Trustee Chris Larson said until he has more information, he can't really express an opinion one way or the other.
"Until I see some ideas on paper, I can't comment," he said.