OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the administrative Services Committee gave the green light to renting an ambulance from May through July.
The rental period would cover some of the Port City’s busiest times, according to Jeff McCrobie, fire chief.
The cost of the rental is $250 per day. But unlike last year, when the agreement was for just the four days of Harborfest, this pact would be for more than two months.
For two months, they could have it for $2,000, the chief told the committee. The bulk of the rental would be reimbursed through Harborfest at whatever rate the city and festival agree on, the chief said.
Included in the timeframe of this deal are a number of special events for which the ambulance can be utilized.
“We intended to staff these events and utilize 1873 (the department’s pickup truck) as an ALS response. We can now use the ambulance as a transporting unit providing better coverage as well as a source of revenue,” the chief told the committee.
“To me it’s a real good thing. We’re covered from May 5 through July 30. You’ve got the Bridge Street Run, Tri Oswego, Paddle Fest and Harborfest in that timeframe,” he pointed out. “I think the fee for Harborfest should go up because it’s because of them that it needs to be raised.”
He suggested charging Harborfest $1,300, leaving the city to make up the other $700.
“Can’t Menter (Ambulance) do that, Harborfest?” Councilor Shawn Walker asked.
Menter is already used during the festival, McCrobie replied.
Walker said he knew the city would be reimbursed, but does that include the personal services, retirement and everything else for the ambulance crew, he asked.
If firefighters are riding around on the ambulance from May through July, that’s where the cost would add up, according to Councilor Bill Barlow.
“The cost is the people. If you don’t have the ambulance, you don’t need to pay the people to ride the ambulance,” he said.
“The Harborfest overtime has already been set aside. Nobody’s going to be riding around in this ambulance from May to July. We keep our two ambulances, except for special events that it would be used for,” McCrobie said.
The department has staff set for the Bridge Street Run, two paramedics and a pickup truck (which can’t be used to transport). The rented ambulance would generate revenue by transporting patients.
“I would guess that based on other years of the Bridge Street Run, we will make that $700 before midnight. The guys are going to be paid anyway. They are already assigned, it’s a busy night,” the chief explained.
“We only have two ambulances on duty now and that’s all we’re going to have. We’re not talking about additional staff,” Councilor Ron Kaplewicz added.
Having the extra ambulance will also allow time for preventive maintenance on the department’s other rigs, the chief pointed out.
“It is our intention to schedule preventative maintenance on our two ambulances during this time. Along with unscheduled breakdowns, this will save us a loss of revenue,” McCrobie said. “The second ambulance takes approximately 20 percent of our calls and when forced to have an ambulance down for repairs, we lose more than $1,000 a day in revenue.”
Councilor Fran Enwright said he didn’t see this as firefighters getting overtime, this could be done on straight time, he said.
The committee forwarded the request to the full council for consideration.