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EMSLt

Does EMS "Mutual Aid" From A Commercial Provider Need A Contract?

12 posts in this topic

If 60 Control, as part of Westchester Government, at an agencies request or on their own, repeatedly uses a single commercial provider for VAC's that can't get out the door, then doesn't that type of activity require a RFP/RFQ?  And this isn't mutual aid, it's a grey area band aid fix that is becoming routine several times a day activity.  If New Rochelle, White Plains, etc all have to go through the bid process for EMS providers, then why aren't all commercial providers afforded the opportunity for the business? Or does it fall under exisiting flycar contracts?

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I think it depends on what kind of call it would be. For example, if it's an ALS call and an ALS unit is responding, I see no reason not to let the ALS unit handle it as long as long as the ALS unit has a reasonable response time. I don't know about Westchester, but I do know an agency that had trouble getting out, so they allowed a commercial ALS provider to have a station in their building and in return, the ALS provider was also their primary back up.

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60 Control or Department of Emergency Services does not usually make decisions on mutual aid. All agencies EMS and Fire set up their own mutual aid by location in their district. 60 may go to another agency after mutual aid run card is exhausted but the OIC or responding member (if any) is usually notified.

Bnechis and dwcfireman like this

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... last time i checked ny was a home rule state, so the town would have to put out the RFP/RFQ, or the agency that holds primary response in that area....  I believe 60 control is just trying to get an ambulance to someone... be it volunteer or commercial.  I also believe they have a very strict set of protocolls to fallow too, i am sure someone from 60 control or someone who once worked there can answer that question better.  I know white plains the contract is controled by the police department, every city and town in westchester is different. 

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At one point even mutual aid between neighboring volunteer departments required a formal agreement. When I started in dispatch we had copies of the agreements signed by a judge of the Fairfield County court (before the state took over the courts in the 1960's) between each of the fire districts in town. Not sure why we needed copies of them in dispatch but we had them. 

 

By the time I was an officer in a VFD we used to work most of this stuff out over the phone and just send a memo to dispatch, usually only with a signature from one department. 

dwcfireman likes this

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My question is more how is the County, or select municipalities, are technically awarding business that in other sectors of government would have to go out to a competitive bid?  For example, a VAC can't get out.....a commercial provider who has the ALS contract advises 60 Control they have a BLS unit available, and then 60 Control assigns the call to that commercial provider skipping over retones (which we know don't work) and the next up mutual aid. Routinely. 

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I'll put it this way, because mutual aid is just that.  Someone is coming to help your citizens when you are unavailable.

 

If you are in a town that has a volunteer ambulance corps, or even a city with a contracted EMS service, and they cannot get a bus out, then under mutual aid the next available bus will be sent.  It doesn't matter if your town has a contract or not with an outside private EMS provider, because they are going to respond if they are the next available EMS provider.  Your town does not need a RFP/RFQ with a second agency to respond as mutual aid.  You only need it for your primary response.

 

Yes, there are some towns/counties/states out there that do require a RFP/RFQ for private EMS agencies to respond as mutual aid, but this is generally on a case by case basis as it is not common. 

AFS1970 likes this

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Also, I've noticed that there is a trend of getting away from individual agency mutual aid plans and moving towards the closest available unit for both fire and ems. In Orange County, the dispatchers just put the request and location into the CAD and the system figures out who's closest available unit  based on drive time. 

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Closest available unit is a great idea in theory. It does take some getting used to. We are using a new CAD system that includes GPS on all the rigs. It is great for realizing a rig is on the road for some sort of detail and may be closer than the first due. However it has been set up with speed limits on the roads and picks the closest unit by projected response times. So it may pick a unit further away if the probable route is on a faster road. This is causing lots of grumbling from the one agency that lobbied hard for closest unit response yet still routinely complains about zones when a closer unit is sent.

 

Just before we went live, there was an article about a similar system in Maryland that switched to closest unit over district lines. On a reported structure fire, a station was sent first due that on the old run cards was 3rd due. No issues I know of with response time, but strong complaints from the formerly 1st & 2nd due stations. So there will always be questions.

 

As for Commercial EMS, they may be closer due to the lack of a primary district. In Stamford we have a commercial service with a station here. Then because of the hospital we have numerous neighboring towns here al the time. So the closest unit could be just about anyone. Although these units are not tied into our GPS, they do check in with Southwest CMED who we call for mutual aid, and they send a unit that they see as closest based on the call.

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On 9/21/2016 at 2:09 PM, EMSLt said:

If 60 Control, as part of Westchester Government, at an agencies request or on their own, repeatedly uses a single commercial provider for VAC's that can't get out the door, then doesn't that type of activity require a RFP/RFQ?  And this isn't mutual aid, it's a grey area band aid fix that is becoming routine several times a day activity.  If New Rochelle, White Plains, etc all have to go through the bid process for EMS providers, then why aren't all commercial providers afforded the opportunity for the business? Or does it fall under exisiting flycar contracts?

 

On 9/21/2016 at 8:19 PM, EMSLt said:

My question is more how is the County, or select municipalities, are technically awarding business that in other sectors of government would have to go out to a competitive bid?  For example, a VAC can't get out.....a commercial provider who has the ALS contract advises 60 Control they have a BLS unit available, and then 60 Control assigns the call to that commercial provider skipping over retones (which we know don't work) and the next up mutual aid. Routinely. 

 

 

I think you're stretching the role of 60-Control and it's basis in government to suit a gripe you have with a commercial provider picking up the slack for a volunteer agency that can't get out the door.  60-Control isn't "awarding business", they're using agencies that already have a DOH CON to operate in Westchester to cover 911 calls that volunteers can't cover. 

Instead of being pissed off that the commercial company is doing 911 calls without an RFP or competitive bid (which is absurd in an emergency by the way) you should be pissed at the agency or agencies that can't get out the door themselves and is creating this mess.


60-Control is a dispatch center.  They don't set the dispatch policy for local communities.  If the local communities are OK with the coverage by a commercial provider instead of toning out another volunteer agency that may not get out the door, why does it matter?  If Town X doesn't want 123 Ambulance coming into their town when they don't get out the door I'm sure they'll call 60 and give them an earful.

Who should be next up on mutual aid?  Or are you saying that there is a mutual aid run card that isn't being used?  If that's the case then the gripe is the home agency and if they're not griping.... why are you?

 

Edited by Dinosaur
mamaro40 likes this

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On September 22, 2016 at 10:48 AM, EMT111 said:

Also, I've noticed that there is a trend of getting away from individual agency mutual aid plans and moving towards the closest available unit for both fire and ems. In Orange County, the dispatchers just put the request and location into the CAD and the system figures out who's closest available unit  based on drive time. 

Not in Westchester 

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As has been previously stated, each agency gives 60 Control a list of who it wants ALS and BLS. Also each agency has signed the mutual aid agreement, which gives 60 Control the authority to send mutual aid. Since the mutual aid plan once signed becomes a legal contract and since it clearly prohibits the billing of the county or the requesting agency, there is no requirement in NYS to have a bid, an RFP or other instrument.

 

finally, you ask why all commercial providers are not given an opportunity? Beyond the list that each department gives 60, how many commercial services have CON's in Westchester? How many of them have resources in different areas in Westchester?

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