Gary councilman worries about ambulance mutal-aid pact
By Michelle L. QUinn Post-Tribune correspondent November 7, 2012 11:28PM
GARY — A city councilman questioned the way in which Gary Fire Chief Teresa Everett went about expanding the city’s mutual-aid agreement with an outside vendor and is concerned it might be illegal.
Councilman Roy Pratt, D-At-Large, said during the Common Council’s Wednesday night meeting that he’s received several calls from firefighters concerned over Everett’s decision to house ambulances and employees with Highland-based Prompt Ambulance Service out of Gary’s Station No. 9. Everett recently negotiated with Prompt to have it provide the extra manpower to cover the city’s west side, Glen Park and Brunswick areas.
Pratt said neither he nor any of the council members have seen a copy of the mutual-aid agreement. And he said a mutual-aid agreement doesn’t necessarily justify the chief’s using the city’s public facilities in that way.
“I can only reflect back to a few years ago when a previous administration used a private company for trash pickup,” Pratt said. “MCC sued, and the courts said that the (Gary) Sanitary District has to get the authority of the council to contract out services.
“That’s a matter of law, and before we go too far, the council needs to take a look at it.”
Pratt also said Prompt will likely make money off the ambulance calls not filled by Gary EMS. As well, the question of who would be liable if a patient sued for their transport — the city or Prompt — looms over the decision.
Council President Kyle Allen said the property tax caps have changed the way the city has to do business and with millions in ambulance bills that patients have not paid the city, the reality is that the city will either need to subsidize the EMS, privatize it or combine it with the Fire Department.
Pratt called a Safety Board meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday — prior to the Finance Committee meeting — in the Cleo Wesson Lounge to hear from Everett and Corporate Counsel Niquelle Allen about the agreement.