MILWAUKEE — One of the private ambulance companies that help cover 911 calls is seeking an end to its agreement with the city.
Midwest Medical Transportation Company, which owns the private ambulance company Paratech, sent a letter to the Milwaukee Fire Chief stating its intent to terminate its 911 agreement with the city.
Paratech is currently one of three private ambulance companies in the agreement. It would be the second company to terminate its share of the agreement in less than a year. City documents state the company Meda-Care exited the agreement in July of 2020.
Curtis Ambulance and Bell Ambulance would still remain if Paratech left.
The four companies were tasked with handling "Basic Life Support" or BLS calls, typically non-life-threatening calls. It was designed to allow Milwaukee Fire Department paramedics to focus on the most serious calls without affecting wait times.
As of July 2020, Paratech was receiving 35 percent of BLS calls, Bell got 39 percent and Curtis received 26 percent, city documents show.
The call load has been difficult on all private ambulance companies. The most recent Private Ambulance Provider Service Report shows the percentages of calls the companies were unable to handle were above the city's standards for two of the three companies.
Curtis Ambulance CEO Jim Baker said part of the reason his company has been stressed is that it can be difficult to stay up to staff. Today, he says his company would not be able to take on the call load Paratech is responsible for in addition to what they already cover.
"Even currently with Paratech in the system, there currently are more ambulance calls than are ambulances to respond," Baker said.
"We would hope that some of the Paratech staff would stay in the 9-1-1 system and assist and we also are hoping to obviously hire additional personnel," he also said.
Curtis took a portion of Meda-Care's quadrant when they terminated the agreement. Bell Ambulance also took a large section. Director of Operations Chris Anderson said at this time, he's not sure if they could do the same with Paratech's territory.
"Hopefully the process of Paratech leaving is done over a period of time so we can look at some other options or alternatives or outside of the box thinking that maybe we haven't even thought of yet, but as of right now we just don't have the staff," Anderson said.
In its letter to the MFD chief, Midwest Medical said it can complete the transition process by April 30. However, the agreement stipulates a company gives 180 days' notice if they plan to terminate.
"The fire department at the end of the day, they're going to serve the needs of the citizens," Anderson said. "I don't know how yet. I don't the mechanics of it yet. But if someone calls 911 they're always going to get an ambulance."
Paratech and Midwest Medical did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
The city's Public Safety and Health Committee is scheduled to discuss Paratech's potential departure from the city agreement later this week.
The I-Team will continue to investigate this topic, including how private ambulance companies are reimbursed for services from insurance providers. If you have a tip you want them to investigate, you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 414-967-5556.