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Elma wants cheaper ambulance rate from FD5

Grays Harbor Fire District 5, which provides emergency medical services under contract to Elma, McCleary and neighboring Fire District 12, will see those pacts expire at the end of the year. If those deals are to be renewed, there may be some negotiating to be done.

District 5 Fire Chief Dan Prater said last week that the district will soon be corresponding with those entities, offering a three-year “status quo” contract.

“The (District 5) commissioners decided to move forward with a status quo contract — no major (monetary) increases whatsoever,” Prater said. “It’s a three-year contract; that’s our proposal.”

Prater noted that in the past there has been some apprehension by some city officials regarding costs of the contracts.

“There was concern that cost of service was going to keep climbing and climbing,” Prater said, “but we didn’t have to ask for an increase, so we’ll see how it goes.”

For Elma Mayor Dave Osgood, that may be a good starting point, but he thinks there are reasons for negotiations.

“I know that we’re looking at some things, too, at our end,” Osgood said. “We’re going to do some negotiations. We’re definitely looking at some other issues. I really won’t know here for about two weeks.”

The city of Elma currently pays $15,842.95 a month to District 5 for EMS service for an annual total of $190,115.40.

Elma has also recently purchased a used ambulance from the Montesano Fire Department and has been flirting with the idea of starting their own medical service to suplement their contract with Fire District 5 to drive rates even lower.

“It’s still an early idea, but we’ve met with the folks at Summit Pacific Medical Center and we think we have the potential to start something here,” Osgood said.

Osgood cited Fire District 5 statistics that show a serious downward trend in the number of ambulance runs being provided over the past couple of years of the current contract.

In 2012, Fire District 5 provided 537 EMS runs for Elma, 238 for McCleary and 87 for Fire District 12.

But in early 2013, Summit Pacific Medical Center opened the doors of brand-new hospital in the city limits of Elma. The hospital is now just under three miles from Fire District 5’s headquarters at 428 Stamper Road, but an emergency room within minutes of hundreds of Elma households.

And in 2013, Fire District 5 EMS runs to Elma dropped significantly to 455, but only slightly in McCleary with 232 and Fire District 12, which had 80 runs.

And in the first half of this year, it was down to 165 calls in Elma with 91 in McCleary and 38 for Fire District 12.

Osgood believes that with Summit Pacific now ensconced in Elma, there’s less demand for service from Fire District 5 and Elma should get a cheaper rate.

“We have a hospital in Elma now, and you can really tell people are driving themselves to the hospital now,” Osgood said.