Tensions rise at City Council during ambulance debate – South Dakota News

Tensions rise at City Council during ambulance debate – South Dakota News

What was billed as a 20-minute presentation to the City Council on ambulance service in Sioux Falls boiled over Tuesday into a two-hour back-and-forth with city health officials.

Some councilors raised concerns about response times and accountability. Others defended the City Hall-hired service, Paramedics Plus, and the oversight of its contract by the city’s health department and emergency medical services board.

Most welcomed the chance to learn more about the contract with the Texas-based group, which paid thousands of dollars in fines for showing up late to Sioux Falls calls.

“It’s important that we get the correct information out there,” Council Chairman Rick Kiley said. “It’s especially important for the members of the public.”

►More: What did we learn from the City Council ambulance debate?

The company was assessed $17,000 in 2015 and more than $18,000 in 2016 for failing to meet response time requirements set in the city’s contract.

During busy periods, if no ambulance is available, dispatch eventually calls for help from surrounding ambulance services. The closest neighboring service is Med-Star Paramedic Ambulance in Brandon, but after two years Paramedics Plus has yet to reach a formal mutual aid agreement with the company.

“They said they were going to be talking about a contract with Med-Star,” Councilor Theresa Stehly said. “Has that been done?”

Jill Franken, who heads the city’s health department and oversees emergency medical services, defended Paramedics Plus. The company has two mutual aid…

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