At the last City Council meeting, City Manager John Russo promised that he would have on the website all of the reports that were done by various consultants about Fire Department services. True to his word, the files are up including one that had been missing because it was not accepted by the City when it was commissioned.
As I mentioned before there was this elusive Tri Data contract that was signed by Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant in March 2010. This contract was executed after the Fire Department Union got all up in arms when former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant decided that she wanted to piggyback on the Alameda County EMS RFP for ambulance services in July 2009. The Tri Data contract was specifically requested to study EMS services:
• GIS analysis and mapping of the City of Alameda EMS response
• Analysis of CAD data to include standard response time analysis, UH/U, and risk/demand
• EMS delivery models and costs for delivering these models
• Personnel needed to implement models
• A recommendation for model selection
• BLS transfer business model with ability to back-up 911 service
• Civilian/sworn combined models and costs.
Probably with the end goal of outsourcing ambulance services to the County or a private provider.
Even though it appears that the Tri Data draft was submitted in June 2010, it was never accepted by the Interim City Manager nor ever presented to the City Council even though the City paid $40,000 for the study to be done. Even though between the time that the Tri Data draft was presented and the November election occurred the Interim City Manager had a major issue regarding EMS services come before the City Council where this report would have come in handy during the deliberation process, the Tri Data contract never saw the light of day until well after she left.
Unfortunately for our former Interim City Manager and for Tri Data, the conclusion that Tri Data reached was not the one that the Interim City Manager was looking for and so the draft report was placed on a shelf or in the “drafts” folder which used to be forbidden territory for the public.
So here are some bits and pieces from the Tri Data report:
Both AMR and Paramedics Plus have informed the City of Alameda that they do not want to take over EMS transportation from the City of Alameda Fire Department. This position is not surprising because serving certain areas ofthe City would negatively affect meeting response time obligations. The County provider would be required to staff a fulltime ambulance in Station 4’s community, which is not financially beneficial to them. There are also political issues that may make the private providers reluctant to attempt a takeover of public EMS. (p. 12)
Oh, and here’s an interesting tidbit that I didn’t know, since when Ann Marie Gallant took over as Interim City Manager she said that she was going to start the process of searching for a permanent City Manager immediately:
The city manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council, with the position currently occupied on an interim basis by the city finance director. There are no plans to officially fill the position until after the November 2010 election. (p.15)
Anyway as to service levels:
The current deployment results in 4-minute travel time gaps in at the edges of the jurisdiction, which include Alameda Point (former Naval Air Station Alameda). If this area is turned into civilian development, it will be important to look at adding another station to ensure adequate coverage of this area. (p.27)
Overall, the AFD provides good protection to Alameda residents; however, some over 10 percent exceed the recommended 90th percentile goals. Methods to reduce the dispatch and turnout times should be evaluated and implemented. This will help offset high travel times that are affected by a number of external factors, such as traffic, calming devices and residential speed limits.
Using ALS engines is helping to reduce total response time for the first arriving unit on EMS calls. However, if the plan to develop Alameda Point continues…AFD and City leadership should look at re-opening Station 5 on the west side and staffing a medic unit to assist with increased call demand. This will help reduce wait times for a transport unit on that side of town and reduce the overall call per unit on medic. (p.31)
One reason why it would have been good for the City Council to have had access to this report that was paid for was that this particular consultant felt as though it would not have been beneficial for the City to get into the patient transport business because the risks would outweigh the benefits (p.50)
The report eventually concluded that:
Our primary tasks were to recommend who should provide EMS within the City of Alameda, and what financial considerations could be considered to reduce costs. The City’s choices are minimal, due to finances, political conditions, and the changing EMS environment within Alameda County. At this time, we recommend that the City continue with its current model of providing full-service EMS. (p. 56)
They also noted, even though the Fire fighting portion of the Fire Department was not in their scope:
An evaluation of fire suppression services was beyond the scope of the study. While EMS costs are difficult to reduce, there is often room to manipulate fire suppression services. The City recently closed Station 5, reducing their armament by one engine and one medic unit. Our initial impression is that there is not much to cut, but only a formal study could provide a true picture. (p.57)