For the past seven
years, Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service of Indiana Inc. has been
providing advanced life support EMS services to the residents of Chesterton,
with an ambulance and dedicated crew stationed around the clock at the
Chesterton fire station.
Under the terms of
the original three-year contract--which was renewed on a one-year basis for
four additional years after it expired--in the event of Superior’s
recovering gross receipts over a certain specified threshold, it would split
the surplus 50/50 with the town, “up to an amount equal to the percentage of
the town’s budgeted expenses which are attributable to EMS.”
But never once, in
those seven years, did Superior ever hit the specified threshold, so there’s
been no surplus to split.
Now--also under the
terms of the contract--Superior has given the town a 60-day notification
that it will terminate its relationship with the town, effective Dec. 30,
unless the town agrees immediately to pay the outfit a subsidy of $150,000.
To which the Town
Council, at its meeting Tuesday night, effectively said Nuts.
“It has been a
pleasure to serve the Town of Chesterton and its residents,” Superior
Vice-President Mary Franco said in a letter dated Oct. 30. “However, without
a subsidy from the town we are unable to continue serving the community. As
discussed, the billing revenue from ambulance transports provided to the
town is insufficient to cover the costs associated with providing 24/7 EMS
services to the town.”
“They were supposed
to be sharing revenues,” noted Member Jim Ton, R-1st. “To my recollection
that never amounted to anything. But I’m not in favor of paying anybody to
provide services when this was supposed to be a service to us.”
Ton added that the
“subsidy” demanded by Superior smacked of a “tribute.”
voted unanimously not to subsidize Superior and to conclude its contractual
relationship with the firm on Dec. 30.
Fire Chief John
Jarka emphasized that Town of Chesterton residents will continue to receive
EMS service under Porter County’s contract with Porter Regional Hospital,
and that other FDs with ALS ambulance facilities have gladly offered to
“help out” when needed: Burns Harbor, Valparaiso, Portage, and South Haven.
“So we’re not
leaving anybody high and dry?” Ton pressed Jarka. “We’re not abandoning
“No, we’re not,”
Jarka replied. “The county has a contract with the hospital. That’s
Superior,” added Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, “we were serviced by the
The CFD does have
basic life support ambulance capability but at the moment no mechanism for
recouping the cost of BLS. As DeLaney observed, “Every ride would be a free
After the vote, the
council instructed Jarka to begin researching short- and long-term EMS
alternatives. “It’s a matter of exploring what options are out there and
getting back to the council about what those options are,” Associate Town
Attorney Chuck Parkinson said.
floated the idea, “the money not being paid in tribute could be used for a
conversion” to ALS capability.