HOUSTON — The Houston Joint Ambulance District has agreed to a three-year contract for ambulance service with Spirit EMS.
This past Saturday, members of the ambulance district board signed a contract that will commence Feb. 1, 2023, through December 31, 2025.
The vote on the contract comes after a stalemate at a special Dec. 30, 2022, meeting of the ambulance district.
At a Dec. 20, 2022, meeting, Spirit EMS presented contractual language to the Houston Joint Ambulance District board to exit the contract with 60 days-notice if it finds the funding from the tax base and billing of runs was unsustainable. This request for language came one day after the Perry Port Salem Ambulance District opted to contract solely with Perry Port Salem Rescue as of Jan. 1. On Dec. 29, 2022, the Houston Joint Ambulance District then presented reciprocal language to Spirit for a 60-day out clause should they find someone able to provide EMS services at less cost over the next three years.
Neither party could agree on the 60-day out clause language, so Spirit EMS came back to the district on Dec. 30, 2022, offering to contract under the terms and conditions that had already been approved by all three government entities, subsequently signed, and approved by the trustees at their Nov. 21, 2022, meeting.
Two of the three district trustees were in agreement to approve the original terms, while one trustee was not. Ohio law requires that a joint ambulance district be unanimous when voting on an ambulance contract.
When the impasse occurred hours before the contract was set to expire, Spirit EMS agreed to continue ambulance service to the district through Jan. 30, 2023, while the district board and Spirit consulted with legal counsel. After the Dec. 30, 2022, meeting, district board members went back to the Lockington Council, as well as the Washington and Loramie trustees, to seek their opinion/approval on the contract terms agreed upon last November. Upon unanimous vote from all three entities to again enter into a three-year contract with Spirit EMS, board members subsequently signed the contract Jan. 28.
Spirit EMS has been providing personnel to cover the Houston Joint Ambulance District since Jan. 1, 2021, after only two part-time/volunteer members remained with Houston Rescue Squad, Inc. in late 2020.
“We are thankful to have the contract in place and the past behind us,” said Spirit EMS President/CEO Brian K. Hathaway. “The Spirit EMS family of professionals looks forward to proudly serving the great people of the Houston Joint Ambulance District for many more years to come.”
During the Jan. 17 Houston Joint Ambulance District meeting, Hathaway reported on run volume in 2022 as it compared to 2021.
In 2022, for all of the Houston District, there were 255 dispatches with an average dispatch to enroute time of 2.8 minutes and an average dispatch to on scene time of 11.6 minutes. Mutual-aid was called to assist on three occasions, with Spirit still responding on two of those three calls. In total, there were eighteen secondary calls in the territory and Spirit EMS was able to respond on all but one of those. Spirit responded to 99.6 percent of its total dispatches last year and mutual-aid assistance was called for 1.2 percent of the total calls. There were 75 more dispatches in 2022 than 2021, or a 42.7 percent increase in total call volume. Spirit transported 59 more patients to the hospital in 2022 than the year prior. When called, 71.9 percent of the patients were taken to the hospital, compared to 69.1 percent in 2021. The average number of calls by month in 2022 was 21.2 compared to 14.8 in 2021. That 21.2 calls per month accounts for an average of 0.7 calls per day and one transport to the hospital every other day.
In 2022, while covering territory for both Houston and Perry Port, there were 436 dispatches in which Spirit was called to handle. Spirit responded to 433 of the 436 or 99.3 percent of its total dispatches for the year, all the while covering 115 square miles of territory during that period of time.