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City of Colorado Springs considering bringing ambulance service in-house

Posted at 6:39 AM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 08:39:35-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) is proposing a change to how the city runs ambulance services for citizens.

The City of Colorado Springs currently has a contract with American Medical Response (AMR) to provide ambulance services across the city. With AMR's contract ending in April of 2025, CSFD is trying to bring ambulance services in-house under a new city enterprise.

City leaderss, including CSFD Fire Chief Randy Royal and Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade, pitched the plan to Colorado Springs City Council members during Monday's work session. The two said the change would reduce response times and medical costs for residents.

The fire department said AMR has not been meeting the expectations for response times laid out in its contract with the city. CSFD said in the past three years, AMR responded late to more than 33,000 calls and paid the city more than $5 million in damages for not meeting response times.

CSFD VS AMR Response Times

During Tuesday's meeting, the city's deputy chief of staff said the standard EMS response time in an urban area is around eight minutes. CSFD said its average response time for medical calls was eight minutes and 50 seconds in 2022 and eight minutes and 29 seconds in 2023. CSFD said AMR's average response time was 15 minutes and 21 seconds in 2022 and 13 minutes and 26 seconds in 2023.

The department also argued the following CSFD programs would have access to better funding with revenue from the proposed EMS Enterprise:

  • Community Response Teams (CRT)
  • Alternative Response Teams (ART)
  • Community Medical Operations (CMED)
  • Homeless Outreach Program (HOP)
  • Transition Assistance Program
  • Super Utilizer Program
  • Aging in Place Program (APP)

The department said creating a city enterprise to fund in-house ambulance services would save citizens almost $600 per ambulance trip. CSFD said residents would pay $2,275 for an Advance Life Support (ALS) transport and $1,975 for a Basic Life Support (BLS) transport. The fire department said AMR's cost for transports is $2,827 for ALS and $2,569 for BLS.
CSFD said the potential enterprise would have 25 ambulances with 18 providing Advance Life Support during peak call volume.

Colorado Springs is not the first city in the Pikes Peak Region to create a public ambulance service. The City of Manitou Springs moved its ambulance service in-house in February of 2023.

Manitou Springs adds ambulance service

According to the fire department, Colorado Springs is the only city in the Pikes Peak Region that uses a private ambulance service and is one of four among the top 40 cities by population that do not have a public sector ambulance service.

CSFD Top 40

Fire leaders said they hope to have the EMS Enterprise fully operational by April 2025 when the city's contract with AMR ends. City council is expected to have a first reading on the proposal on June 10.