Burns Harbor officials have been authorized to negotiate a contract with
Porter Hospital’s ambulance service to staff an ALS rig at the town’s fire
Fire chief Bill Arney said preliminary talks already have begun.
The Town Council decided Wednesday that having the Fire Department operate
its own ALS service can’t sustain itself financially; a one-year trial
period began 13 months ago.
The service didn’t transport, bill and collect enough to cover its more than
$200,000 annual cost to operate the 24/7 service, most of that for paramedic
staffing. The town has covered the deficit to this point.
Arney and Fire Department liaison Mike Perrine said Burns Harbor’s proposing
Porter Hospital possibly lease the town’s ALS ambulance, which offers
advanced medical treatment, and staff it based at the fire station at
hopefully no cost to the town. The Fire Department would operate its own BLS
ambulance for basic care, too.
Perrine asked that the Fire Department continue to offer ALS service in the
interim while contract terms are hashed out.
Councilman Jeff Freeze said there’s no reason to have a lapse in coverage so
efforts will be made to have a final contract draft ready for council
consideration in January.
Last month Perrine said he would inquire if major industrial taxpayers in
town, especially ArcelorMittal, would step up to help save ALS operations.
CR England trucking offered to match $5,000 if the first $5,000 were raised
in Tech Business Center where it’s located, said Perrine, but it wasn’t.
Some local businesses did donate funds for equipment when the ALS service
The audience was nearly filled for Wednesday’s council meeting, many of them
firefighters. President Jim McGee did not allow comment prior to the
council’s ALS decision although public input had been voiced at several
After the vote Arney said it’s a disappointment the town ALS couldn’t
survive, but “we’ll make the best out of a bad situation.”
Later in the meeting resident Marcus Rogala said the council is putting
paramedics out of work, and it takes time for a new business to make a
return on investment. “Lifesaving isn’t on a trial basis.”
Councilmen said all ALS paramedics were working part-time for Burns Harbor,
often as a second job, and that there’s an ongoing effort to keep an ALS
ambulance in Burns Harbor through Porter Hospital.