Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 | 11:15 a.m.
The North Las Vegas Fire Department will end its increased emergency transport system, the city council voted 3-2 Wednesday night.
The fire department began stepping up emergency transport to hospitals earlier this month for calls involving the most needy patients in life-threatening emergencies. The shift from the private ambulance service MedicWest began Sept. 1 in order to bring in revenue for the city by billing insurance companies for the service.
“What this means is that MedicWest will continue to do the bulk of the transports,” said Fire Chief Al Gillespie, who originally projected to bring in $600,000 every six months for the city with the new plan.
A MedicWest representative reiterated to the council that the private company was committed to partnering with the city even though it was financially affected by the change.
In the few weeks that the change was implemented, Gillespie said almost a dozen people were transported daily. Before Sept 1. there was less than one transport a day.
Council members Robert Eliason, Anita Wood and Pamela Goynes-Brown voted to halt the fire transport service. Eliason said the transport agreement was not only unclear on how much revenue it would bring in but that paying employees overtime for additional work like billing would ‘bankrupt’ the city.
Wood agreed with the councilman, saying that the understaffed city needs the help.
“The reality is we need a dual-transport system more than ever because we are not as fully staffed as we should be,” said Wood. “This is the time when the private ambulance company is kind of our backup.”
Gillespie said the fire department will continue to transport when absolutely necessary.