Beginning in June, Ann Arbor firefighters will staff a Huron Valley Ambulance (HVA) and provide basic life support via a first-of-its kind agreement in Washtenaw County. The six-month trial agreement is the result of months of work between the city and HVA.
All Ann Arbor firefighters are licensed emergency medical technicians in basic life support, and the Ann Arbor Fire Department is also a basic life support agency. The difference with this agreement is the availability of a basic life support transport ambulance to transport patients when HVA has no units available.
The AAFD unit will be staffed with firefighters who are normally assigned to a light-rescue non-transport vehicle. The collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Firefighters stipulates that personnel assigned to a transport vehicle will receive a 3.75% increase to their hourly rate for hours worked. The fire department is able to cover this increase within its current budget. HVA will pay the city $125 for each completed transport of a patient, regardless of HVA’s reimbursement. This funding shall be used to offset the 3.75% employee hourly increase.
Should the city decide to operate a transport ambulance indefinitely, then it would need to become independently licensed as basic life support transport agency and purchase its own fire department ambulance, which is approximately $300,000. If independently licensed as a basic life support transport agency, then the city would be able to bill transports independently.
“During this trial, each transport will be tracked to enable the city to determine the impact to fire department operations,” said Ann Arbor Fire Chief Mike Kennedy. “This data will help us to evaluate the success of the six-month trial without incurring the cost of an ambulance. Our ultimate goal is to get patients the emergency care they need and eliminate current transport wait times.”