(KCPW News) The Salt Lake City Fire Department is proposing to start its own ambulance service, rather than continue to contract it out to Southwest Ambulance. But members of the Salt Lake City Council aren’t excited about the idea. Council Chairman Carlton Christensen says if Southwest is losing money right now, the city could also lose money if it starts its own ambulance service. There would also be high start-up costs.
“Certainly, in the beginning we would have a very heavy expenditure because we would have to purchase ambulances, we would have to hire a number of employees, do some training and integrate that into our service. There would be some pretty significant hurdles for us to overcome,” he said.
Southwest Ambulance has told the city that it will have to re-negotiate the financial terms of its contract when it expires in December. In a memo to the city council, Mayor Ralph Becker’s administration proposes to renew the contract for one to two years, then have the city take over ambulance services after that.
City Councilman J.T. Martin says he hasn’t made up his mind, but the proposal doesn’t sound feasible right now.
“With the current economic situation and our revenues coming into the city, I don’t think we can put ourselves at risk to take on any more financial liability,” he told KCPW.
The fire department estimates the initial start-up costs would be at least $4 million for the city to provide its own ambulance service.