Winter Garden leaders review conflicting ambulance-service reports

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  • | 5:29 p.m. May 20, 2015
Winter Garden commission opens with first non-religious invocation
Winter Garden commission opens with first non-religious invocation
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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WINTER GARDEN — Following a report from current ambulance-service provider Rural/Metro that disputes numbers provided by Matrix Consulting, Winter Garden city commissioners again delayed a decision to bring the service under the city’s umbrella.

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer gave commissioners copies of all reports and related email correspondence for review. 

Still, he said the sooner commissioners take a vote on this issue, the better. If the city did take over EMS transport services, staff would need time to purchase equipment and make other preparations.

Robert Finn, of Matrix Consulting, presented a report March 26 that concluded Winter Garden could net about $212,000 to $251,000 per year if Winter Garden Fire Rescue provided ambulance-transport services in addition to EMS services. 

However, those numbers differ from what Rural/Metro has collected throughout its history of providing services to Winter Garden.

According to Rural/Metro Vice President of Operations Steven Youd, Rural/Metro collects about 33% of the total money billed. Following expenses, including billing, vehicles and fuel, the company estimates it nets between $96,000 to $98,000 annually.

Furthermore, Youd said Matrix’s proposed two-ambulance fleet for Winter Garden would not provide as effective a service as Rural/Metro, which dedicates five ambulances to West Orange, he said.

Under Matrix’s proposal, Winter Garden would utilize Orange County in cases when more than two ambulances were needed. 

According to Youd, from Jan. 1 to March 20 Rural/Metro responded to 819 calls in Winter Garden. During that time period, there were 158 instances in which Rural/Metro responded to two or more calls.

Youd also cited two other municipalities — Marion and Orange counties — that recently brought ambulance-transport services in-house and now are experiencing budget and staffing stresses.

“(Under the current arrangement, there is) absolutely no cost to the citizens of Winter Garden,” Youd said.

Fire Chief Matt McGrew and Richard Brady, president of Matrix Consulting Group, sent responses to Rural/Metro’s rebuttal. McGrew and Brady stand by Matrix’s original cost and net revenue estimates. McGrew wrote the advantages to Winter Garden if the fire department provided EMS transport were “excellent and total EMS care for our citizens, excellent continuity of care for our citizens, total control of the resources involved in fire/EMS services, the highest level of accountability and positive revenue that pays for the incremental costs of the service.”

Rural/Metro has been Winter Garden’s ambulance-service provider since 1966.