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|Spadoni (click for larger version)|
July 09, 2013 | 01:35 PMFONTANA — A proposed contract to provide daily emergency response service for the village was approved by the village board July 1.
The final contract will be approved sometime this month after attorney review.
The proposed contract with Paratech Ambulance Services puts a staffed Paratech ambulance within the village for 12 hours a day.
Currently, Paratech ambulances are located throughout the county, and the closest stationed ambulance responds to an emergency when called.
After the proposed contract is approved, a Paratech ambulance will be stationed at the Fontana Safety Building.
For months, the Fontana Protection Committee, charged with handling the village's emergency and safety services, has discussed ways to ensure residents have full access to care.
The committee tried to create a mutual aid program with surrounding communities, but like previous attempts, Fontana couldn't reach an agreement with the villages of Walworth or Williams Bay.
Village Trustee George Spadoni said there was no choice except to approve the contract.
"There's no doubt about it," he said. "This village has experienced a lack of coverage of EMS services due to lack of volunteerism, not because of lack of desire. There are calls being unanswered. There are people that are waiting for care. It all weighs on each of our heads. We are responsible to act."
The contract was discussed at the protection committee just an hour prior to the village board meeting July 1.
The committee was going to vote to hold a decision for the contract until the next meeting when Spadoni spoke out.
Spadoni is not on the protection committee, but he has been vocal in the discussions over emergency services.
"You're putting the residents of Fontana at risk every month (that this isn't approved)," he said to the committee. "You're putting the residents at risk everyday you don't approve the Paratech contract. It's resting on your heads tonight."
Spadoni said the committee had already taken enough time to compare contracts with other companies that provide emergency services.
"(Taking) another 30 days to determine the lost-cost bidder is the worst thing you can do tonight," he said. "We need coverage. We need coverage today."
Spadoni said the village board could find a way to fund the contract if it was approved at the committee level.
"You'll allow the board to discuss it and find a funding mechanism," he said. "A 30-day delay is putting somebody ... at risk. We have documentation of our rescue squad not responding to calls (and) being late. (Being late by) 30 seconds costs a life."
Several committee members questioned the contract and suggested the village hire a full-time professional service.
Spadoni said the village should start slowly, like the village of Walworth.
"(Walworth Fire Chief) Andy Long and (Walworth Police Chief) Chris Severt are highly respected in this community for rescue," Spadoni said. "They have a highly-respected rescue squad. They man it on an eight-hour basis, Monday through Friday. They started slow, and I'm suggesting we do the same."
Walworth has a contract with Metro and has a full-time emergency service official on staff during business hours. During the rest of the day, the village depends on volunteers.
The proposed Paratech contract the board approved keeps trained personnel in the village 12 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and depends on volunteers during the night.
"(This contract) is surely not budgeted," Village Administrator Kelly Hayden said.
Spadoni suggested funds from the rescue squad's Friends of Fontana account be used to pay for the first year.
"I'd like the village attorney to look into it," he said. "The monies that they have in that fund could cover approximately the first year of coverage (with Paratech) until we get to the budget. If they can't provide the services because of lack of volunteers, I think it's a reasonable request to be made."
The board requested the finance committee examine the village budget and find ways to fund the contract.
It's not clear what the service will cost the village. A final amount will be included in the contract when officially approved.
Hayden said the rescue squad currently makes about $40,000 to $50,000 a year from response calls. Those funds could be used for the Paratech contract, she said.
Village attorney Dale Thorpe said he would review the contract as quickly as possible once it's submitted.
The board agreed to meet again before Aug. 1 to approve the contract and funding for it.
EMS Chief Jon Kemmett said the squad may see new members in over the next few months.
"Through word of mouth, we've had three people approach us who are already in the medical field as (Certified Nursing Assistants)," Kemmett said at the committee meeting. "They're very interested in becoming EMTs. We also have had two other people apply to the squad and are looking to take the first responder class."
Kemmett said the squad is looking to connect with high school students who want to train.
"We kind of hit a wall because it's summer," he said. "Courtney (Castelein, EMS captain,) has been working with the high school to find people there interested in taking the first responder class."
It may take a few months for everyone who has applied to get through the training, Kemmett he said.