California City Council Approves Contract With Emergency Air Ambulance Provider
The California City City Council on Tuesday voted 4-1 to approve an interim agreement with Arizona-based Tri-State Care Flight to provide emergency air ambulance services to eastern Kern County until Jan. 20, the Bakersfield Californian reports. Tri-State will take over the remainder of a five-year contract that the city had with Med-Trans of North Dakota, which left the city in November because company officials said that providing air ambulance services in the area was unprofitable. According to the agreement outlined on Tuesday, Tri-State will provide a helicopter, pilots and wages for paramedics and flight nurses, who are part-time employees of the city fire department. City Manager Jack Stewart said that the agreement would be "revenue neutral" for the city. Guarantees from Tri-State President Blake Stamper that the company would assume all financial risk were "key" to the council's approval, the Californian reports. Stamper said, "We never asked for any subsidies from the cities" in which Tri-State operates, adding, "We expect [the service] to be profitable." According to the Californian, the city council is expected to approve a three-year contract with Tri-State Jan. 20.
City council member Bill Dempsey, who voted against the plan, said that he was not sure residents would understand that the city would not have to cover the cost of helicopter services, adding that residents should have the opportunity to vote on whether they want the services. In addition, Roy Cox, the director of Mercy Air program, which would alternate with Tri-State in responding to emergency calls, urged council members to vote against the plan, saying, "There aren't enough patients for two" providers to operate in eastern Kern County (Badillo, Bakersfield Californian, 1/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.