Warren’s ambulance companies disagree on how to improve response time

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WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – There are concerns in Warren about ambulance response times and finding a solution may be difficult. Still, city council discussed its options Wednesday afternoon.

Warren Councilman Dan Sferra first broached the ambulance response issue after an incident six weeks ago at the Slovak Club on Larchmont Avenue. An ambulance was called after someone had a heart attack.

“Waited 15 minutes, called back again. Nothing happened. Then they said, ‘Oh, no ambulance is coming,'” Sferra said.

The person was taken to the hospital by car and is alright, but council is looking for solutions so it doesn’t happen again. Council members listened to Warren’s two ambulance companies — MedStar and EMT.

Sferra suggested negotiating contracts and either alternating calls or alternating days.

“Monday is EMT day, Tuesday is MedStar day, Wednesday and so on,” he said.

The two companies, however, disagreed on which option was best.

“Alternating days works because we’ve seen it work in other cities,” said Scott Pullins, with MedStar.

“That daily rotation is the worst,” said Ken Joseph, with EMT. “It might be best financially because I can downstaff when I’m not going to be busy but from a responsibility standpoint, it needs to be every other call.”

Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa cautioned against thinking contracts would solve the ambulance response time issue because of one major factor.

“The opioid epidemic is taxing resources to their very limits,” Cantalamessa said.

Councilman Eddie Colbert didn’t say specifically, but hinted that maybe it’s time for the city to get into the ambulance business and not rely on for-profit companies.

“Our citizens and the safety of our citizens are always going to be beholden to the bottom line of a private company,” he said.

No decisions were made at the meeting.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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