(Fremont County, WY) – The Fremont County ambulance contract expires this year and the current ground ambulance provider American Medical Response (AMR) has said they do not plan to renew under the current contract.
“We are not up and leaving,” explained Matt Strauss, Regional Director for AMR parent company, Global Medical Response. “The reason why we want out of this contract is because it is set up for failure and we want to negotiate a new contract.”
The current contract, which has been in place for 5 years and expires on June 30th, is Fremont County’s first ambulance contract. Ambulance services were previously provided by the County.
For the past several weeks, Fremont County Commissioners Larry Allen and Mike Jones along with Chief Civil Deputy Jodi Darrough have been making updates to the new ambulance contract.
Both Jones and Allen shared, this first ambulance contract was a learning experience for the County.
The new contract is expected to be more streamlined, cleaned up, and clarified where needed. The County is accepting requests for proposals (RFP) from ambulance service providers and is also expecting to go into contract negotiations.
“It’s a starting point and negotiable,” noted Allen about the new contract.
Strauss said AMR plans to submit an RFP. Sharing they are looking to break even financially. Last year they lost around $1.5M.
“No company can stay open losing that much money.”
The current contract puts us in financial hardship from day one, Strauss explained. Between the annual lease (stations, vehicles, and some equipment) and the dispatch fee, they are nearly $500,000 in debt at the start of every year.
That amount does not include things like fuel, maintenance, training, etc…which continue to increase. In addition, the amounts paid by insurance providers have been decreasing.
“It just keeps stacking up to the point where it is just not sustainable,” he said.
Typically, AMR runs five ambulances in the County – 2 in both Riverton and Lander and 1 in Dubois.
“We run on a very thin staff, but we have to meet some fiscal responsibility. The service is 24/7/365 and they work hard long hours.”
“We don’t want to leave Fremont County,” Strauss continued. “Our crews are great, they bust their hump to make sure they are taking care of the community as much as they can and we want to stay here.”
“We are hoping they
[the Fremont County Commissioners] come up with a sustainable model that helps the service they choose to run it, and hopefully, it’s us.”
While this could seem like an isolated issue here in Fremont County, Strauss explained this is a systemic issue in Wyoming.
Most states consider an ambulance as an essential service, however, the State of Wyoming does not.
Not being an essential service, like law enforcement, municipalities and counties are not obligated to fund this service.
As a long-term goal, they hope to get state legislation passed that puts ambulance service into the essential category.
County 10 will keep you updated on the latest with the Fremont County ambulance contract.