As EMSA has struggled to stay compliant with its contractually required response times in Edmond during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Edmond City Council unanimously approved a request for proposal Monday night asking the city to solicit other providers for medical transport services.
Edmond Fire Chief Chris Goodwin delivered a presentation to the Edmond City Council chronicling EMSA’s involvement in the city since 1990, as well as their performance-related issues in recent years.
“We feel like our citizens deserve better, and that’s why we’re here today. Let’s see what is out there. Let’s see what is available,” Goodwin said.
Oklahoma City and Tulsa are EMSA’s beneficiary cities, meaning the Emergency Medical Services Authority Trust has additional contractual obligations for operating ambulance services in those communities.
Under its agreements with its non-beneficiary cities — Edmond, Nichols Hills and The Village — EMSA is required to collectively respond to Priority 1 calls in those areas in under 11 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. Priority 1 calls are those that can include life-threatening situations, such as heart attacks, strokes and serious injuries sustained in car accidents.
According to those same agreements, EMSA must respond to Priority 2 calls in less than 25 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. Priority 2 calls are less severe and include falls, broken limbs and minor vehicle accidents.
Goodwin said that EMSA has been non-compliant with its Priority 1 response times every month since May 2020. For Priority 2 response times, EMSA only recently met compliance for the first time since May 2020 in February 2023, Goodwin said.
“There has never been a recovery since that time,” Goodwin said. “They’ve yet to hit [Priority 1] compliance in the last 33 months a single time.”
Goodwin said EMSA’s performance dipped following a lawsuit with their former service provider, American Medical Response. Prior to the lawsuit, EMSA gave oversight to AMR, which provided the medical transport service. Following the lawsuit, EMSA began providing the service itself. In 2022, EMSA agreed to pay AMR $10.5 million to settle the lawsuit.
With such changes to EMSA’s operations, Edmond is unable to enforce its contract or ensure response time compliance, Goodwin said.
“Unfortunately, the changes that happened to the trust are, in my opinion, a detriment to Edmond,” Goodwin said. “It removes a lot of our protections. The end result is we don’t have a contract. We can’t enforce it. They’re no longer going out to the competitive bidding, so there is just lots of things that work against us there.”
In February, Goodwin sent a memo to Edmond city manager Scot Rigby regarding a draft RFP, stating that he was concerned about a “lack of transparency from EMSA leadership, the lack of a future contingency plan, recent changes to the trust documents” and other issues.
“Edmond is not the same size city we were when we first partnered with EMSA over 30 years ago,” Goodwin said. “Our population and our call volume have both increased dramatically. In the year 2000, EFD responded to 3,301 incidents, and 1,749 of them were medical calls. In 2022, we had 10,089 incidents, and 6,153 were medical responses.”
Further in the memo, Goodwin states that other medical transport service providers see the value in working with Edmond.
“These transport agencies believe they can provide immediate and long-term compliance at the level of service our citizens desire,” Goodwin said.
The request for proposal, which will open May 1 and close June 15, includes a desire for applicants to offer or have:
- An enforceable contract with defined fines and liquidated damages;
- A one-year contract/option to renew annually for up to five years;
- Ambulances dedicated to the City of Edmond. (Currently, EMSA posts two ambulances in the city, “when they are able to,” Goodwin said.)
- Standby coverage for special events;
- Priority 2 call response times under 20 minutes;
- A membership program similar to EMSA’s existing model;
- No automatic exclusions for late calls;
- Past experience in advanced life-support transport;
- Emergency and disaster assistance;
- Contingency allowances;
- Medical oversight;
- A co-branded ambulance option;
- The possibility for EFD to purchase ambulances at cost.
Speaking to the council, Rigby noted that despite their struggles with the city, EMSA can still respond to the RFP.
“Our staff will not make a recommendation on changing providers unless we ultimately, to the utmost we can, have confidence that any other provider can meet the standard that we expect,” Rigby said. “Let’s just say we only have minimal response and say none of them meet the threshold we expect (…) then we’ll have to kind of reconvene next steps — that may mean we continue to go with EMSA, and we have to be open to that.”
‘I’d just like to say thank you.’
Ward 1 Edmond Councilman David Chapman and Ward 2 Edmond Councilman Josh Moore attended their final meeting as elected members of the body Monday.
“I’d just like to say thank you for the time and energy you have both given, the sacrifices that you made, the sacrifices your families made for you all sitting up here,” Edmond Mayor Darrell Davis said.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Christin Mugg said Moore and Chapman spent hours explaining city processes to her and Ward 4 Councilwoman Stacie Peterson when the two junior councilwoman were first elected.
“To a vote, I never saw them do anything that was not fully of integrity, transparency and honesty and doing what they truly felt like was in the best interest of this community and its businesses,” Mugg said.
Peterson teared up while saying her thanks to Moore and Chapman.
“There is not a resident in this city who doesn’t prosper from having you two on this council,” Peterson said.
Moore said “the sky is the limit” for Edmond’s future.
“I thank my family for letting me to do this. My wife is somehow at both soccer practice and tennis practice right now, and so I’m going to get to go help with that,” Moore said. “But I thank my family for letting me do this and I’m looking forward to spending more time with them.”
Chapman thanked his fellow council members and gave a heartfelt message to Moore.
“Josh, we came into this office together and we barely knew each other at that point, but we became the best of friends. Almost like brothers” Chapman said. “I treasure those one hour-long conversations discussing city business and life. Thank you for that and I love you, man. I appreciate you.”
Next week, Ward 1 Councilman-elect Tom Robins and Ward 2 Councilman-elect Barry Moore will begin their four-year terms when they both sworn into office at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Edmond City Council chambers.