Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rescue Me

As the old adage goes: If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. And when just about every cog in the machine is showing signs of wear, it’s generally a bad idea to replace the only one that isn’t.

Such is the case in Saratoga Springs, where just about every city department has a fair amount of dysfunction in dire need of correction. So leave it to Ron Kim, the city’s Public Safety rube, to suggest replacing what some would consider the only piece of the department that seems to be working rather well.

In a brazen moment of stupidity, Kim suggested Monday the city bid out its ambulance service contract. Historically, the city has depended on the tried-and-true Saratoga Emergency Medical Services Inc., a private not-for-profit ambulance corps that has hauled patients at no cost to the city. Kim’s perplexing decision to send the contract out to bid –for the first time in city history –opens the door for a private for-profit ambulance company to come in and offer a pitch that SEMS would be unable to match.

Kim, in his infinitely dizzying intellect, believes the city can cash in on some of the business SEMS does. Apparently, he sees unclaimed cash racing up Van Dam Street every time an ambulance makes the mad dash to Saratoga Hospital.

“Our thinking at this point is that if we’re going to copy cities around us, they bid out the service, and the cities get something for it,” Kim told the Saratogian Monday. “It’s not unlike what you do with cable providers.”

The only difference is a cable provider brings shows like “Sex in the City” and “24” into homes, and the ambulance service brings semi-conscious profusely bleeding patients to where that can receive life-saving care. In short, the ambulance service is not a revenue cash cow, nor should it be viewed as one.

Saratoga Springs is one of the few municipalities in New York that has not suffered from the emergency medical services crisis that has wrought havoc on the state for more than a decade. SEMS, which was once an all-volunteer service, was among the more fortunate ambulance companies that made a successful transition to a paid, not-for-profit service. The fact that the city doesn’t subsidize the ambulance company with anything more than its rent at the fire department’s West Avenue substation is simply astounding.

Some will argue the not-for-profit model of the ambulance service is antiquated and in need of replacement by the for-profit model, which seems to be proliferating as operating costs choke the volunteer companies out of existence by. Generally, these folks are on the payroll of Mohawk Ambulance, a company listens carefully to the wind for the drivel now spewing from Kim’s mouth.

Simply put, Mohawk can quickly become the only option once municipality kicks a not-for-profit ambulance company to the curb. Once an ambulance company is liquidated, there’s no going back. The costs associated with creating such a service would be beyond the means of any town, city or village, much less one that’s facing a potential certain $1.9 million revenue shortfall.

Kim’s early talk has also spurred the city firefighters into suggesting they might start hauling patients from the east side of the city, where SEMS lacks any sort of rescue station. John Betor, an assistant chief with the city fire department, claims the firefighters could get into the business of hauling patients when SEMS is busy. He says the ambulance corps usually relies on outside agencies –a process called “mutual aid” –about twice a week. Because there is no other nearby ambulance service, mutual aid calls can sometimes take upwards of 20 minutes in response time, Betor explained. He suggested the city augment SEMS by having its own ambulance on the road.

“They do have times when they can’t respond and we have to wait for outside help to respond,” he said. “No one should have to wait for an outside agency.”

Here’s the problem: The city can’t afford to dabble in ambulance business. Even if there was a multi-million dollar budget surplus and property taxes were at or about zero, the city endeavoring into the meat wagon practice is a liability no sensible auditor would suggest.

In truth, the answer lies with establishing a badly needed substation on Saratoga’s eastside, and then stowing an additional SEMS ambulance at it. Strangely enough, the city has prescribed this in the latest firefighter contract, which Kim negotiated himself. But why bother getting bogged down with details.

The bottom line is tinkering with a functional ambulance service is a recipe for disaster. Once again, Kim has opened Pandora’s Box to cause a litany of problems and hassle for the city council to weed through, rather than focusing on the desperate needs at hand. As residents, we can all hope that the election November comes before Kim can get his fumbling fingers around the one cog that does appear to be working properly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael says

Once again Kim is thinking with half his brain, looking out for his employees at the fire department rather than for the people he was elected to represent. Someone thinking the idea of franchising emergency medical service completely through would quickly realize that in order to be profitable, whoever runs it will need to increase the service charge. Folks the service charge is the charge we are responsible to pay for when the EMS responds to a call. Very simply put, no matter how it’s cut, a for-profit outfit has a higher overhead cost, because of the need to compensate its management, maybe shareholders, and other bloat. Those higher costs will ultimately be paid from your pocketbook whether you pay directly or you pay a higher insurance premium for EMS coverage.

Not only will EMS cost increase to individuals but, with an increased revenue Kim and cronies will spend it on some project that will need to be fed with tax dollars, ultimately increasing property taxes.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

MAN, you rebound from a funk WAY better than I!

Kommissioner Kim's Krash Kart koncept was just one more thing that left me shaking my head at the last Council meeting. A representative from SEMS was present but damn-near shellshocked at the lack of any notice. Kounselor Kim replied that contact of ANY kind with SEMS would have poisoned any RFP in the future.

Commissioner Franck gave us taxpayers a heads-up to be on the alert for Ron's new Public Safety Ambulance Corps. Incredibly, the city has a gleaming new ambulance thanks to Joe Bruno... but it sits in a garage for want of a mission.

This incredible tale is like a cross between M*A*S*H and Catch-22. Time for one of Hawkeye's martinis. With a civilized olive.

-Kyle York
Wailing. Sigh. Ron.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we go again.....a different commissioner....the same old scare tactics from the Fire Dept.
Ask yourself,oh wise one (HO), why is it that the CHIEF of the Fire Dept did not come forward with the dribble.
Is Betor our next Chief?
Is Cogan retiring?
Where did all of this rhetoric come from, on almost the eve of Christmas?

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is a crime that Saratoga's finest use ambulance's as a taxi service now. Whenever they need to transport people they just call the ems and not even bother calling their families.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron Kim wants to negoiate the police and firemens contract? Doesn't he know that would violate the cities'ethics code...and put him in a position of a balant conflict of interest....pay attention to this sleeze ball lawyer john q. public..he advocates building a 15 million dollar public saftey palace because of a 4 dollar missing ceilling tile....he's trying to create issues because he can't create solutions, in otherwords Ron.. stop carrying Vals jock strap!

4:35 AM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

If everything is switching from public non-profit to the private sector with revenue goals, then you might as well go all the way and bid out the positions that public officials hold. If you're going to corrupt public service, then you should be held to the same standards.

Look out Ron... you yourself will be outsourced soon enough.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sooner that the voters realize that Kim is an asshole who's only concern is to build his department as big as he can, the better the city will be. For some reason he thinks that he will be as popular and powerful as McTygue. Ronny, it's time to wake up and realize that you are and have always been a jerk. It's time for you to stop politics and go back to your true calling, talking poor souls into bankruptcy. It would boost your public persona.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Help! I'm a prisoner in Bronner's basement said...

We must unite -- Dems, Reps and Indys -- to rid the city of this dangerous, power-crazed lunatic named Ron Kim.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Parsley, Sage, rosemary and Tighe said...

What the city should really do is re-elect Ron Kim. He will make the necessary changes to move us forward. Quit your crying. The PS Building is a necessity and we will pay for it. Let's do it now before the price goes up. Fuck McTygue.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When this guy comes around again at election time as Anon 7:41 reminds us, and the Politician starts talking about “Building for his Department’s Futures” (HIS NEW DIRECTION) remember those antics of his that separated his veiled mission from the one he initially suggested to the resident taxpaying voters.

All this ex-post facto Administrator has done was to provide a seat at the Council Table for his Chiefs who instead of managing their departments on his promised responsible fiscal lead, spent way too much time politicking, crying foul and demanding more sugarplums.

You decide.

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear: Parsley, Sage, rosemary and Tighe

If you want to vote for Kim that’s your business use my name and it becomes my business. Try being a little more humorous or creative for a change I know being a brain dead NIXUM clone that’s difficult but just try really really hard. Breath slowly wipe the form off your mouth and say MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Oh I forgot VANGUARD doesn’t believe in Christmas sorry.

John Tighe

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kim is at it again. Refusing to use his "big brain" in departmental negotiations. My first thought is "Thank God", he's the same one that wants to build an edifice to Ron Kim, he would give everything away to the unions for their support. My second thought is, "what an arrogant ass".

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not buy the empty gas station on Union Avenue and put a couple of SEMS vehicles in there, servicing the East Ridge without the cost of 16 more permanent employees. Those Lakesiders aren't looking for a firetruck responding to downtown alarms all the time anyway. Too easy?

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:29 it is easy,why not just pony up with the town of Saratoga which has a new volunter fire station just over the bridge and literally save millions....mutual aide is already there...a little seed money to them would work wonders....but then again kim doesn't want to piss off the union,he'd rather screw the tax payers,he's getting good at it..we'll see in nov.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

perhaps we should just call him
Ron Kim Jung Il

or just Dear Leader.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ron Kim needs to remember that in part of him public safety responsibilities, he in no way oversees the EMS Transport Service. How can you legally try to contract out your Transport Service when you do not own the Certificate of Need for Ambulance Transport in the City. As far as I know SEMS is the only City entity that Owns that Certificate.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ben - How 'bought bringing us up to date on the latest NXIVM news? Whadda ya see in Vanguard land (which our fair city may soon be renamed)?

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breaking News: Ben Arnold who feably attempted a come back has gone MIA again. He is being life coached by none other than Val "I shall return" Keehn. He is head over heels in love with her and cannot do anything to stop it. The fact that he and Shot in the Dark are MIA together means trouble for the two! Or should I say the one?

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 9:22

The department of public safety is responsible for the delivery and yes even transport of persons in need of medical care. Read the charter. As a municipality, the City can submit for a CON anytime it wishes, either for the FD or even for an ambulance company that does not currently hold a CON for the City. Such as Empire, Capital or anyone else who wishes to respond to the RFP. The lack of a CON does not exclude anyone from submitting a proposal. You should try reading the regulations before you comment.

4:50 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

4:06 and 5:14,

While I hold respect for my fellow blogger here in the Spa City, this chronicle isn't a dumping ground for all the comments not published over there for whatever reason, nor is it a method to correspond with Mr. Arnold. I assure you, there are plenty other avenues for that.

I'll also add that the fellow has been dormant since Thanksgiving really, so some half-baked jerk-off conjuring some fantastic scenario where he(or she)is boffing the ex-mayor as part of some crazy cult ritual should hardly be construed as 'breaking news.' Please try to stay on topic, or at least explain to me how (dis)utopia, Val Keehn and 'vanguard' has anything to do with this topic.

I wouldn't be surprised if Ben simply got sick of seeing these sort of mindless posts. I sure am.

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its easy to say this is the only cog working. Its a private entity that keeps things out of the public, how else can you explain why they never show their books to the City.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone thought about the SEMS employees?
Thought perhaps for just a minute that they actually like the job they do & willingly pick up bloody, puking, DYING people, just like firemen willingly run into burning buildings. YES, to support a family as well as help people in a time of need.
Thought perhaps it's a job they can enjoy while earning a pay check.
Stop thinking just one sided & REMEMBER SEMS employees support REAL families with spouses, kids, health issues, homes and bills, just like the police dept., fire dept. and Ron Kim himself, except he doesn't seem to care about anything but his OWN agenda.
But, the BIG difference is SEMS to exist in the city of Saratoga Springs and currently cost the tax payers NOT A DIME, unless they use the service.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Black Gun Powder said...


The thing is that Ben and Val do have something to do with all of this. She will run again for city office. Ron Kim will run for Mayor and Val will run for Public Safety. It was you and these McTygue following idiots that allowed Vanguard and the Nxium knob jobs to rant.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous OBI Steak Gorgonzola said...

Ron Kim is the most legitimate candidate for mayor right now!

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By submitting a CON, Ron Kim still needs to prove a need, both to DOH and the Regional Medical Council. With Betor's comments of SEMS dropping calls about twice per week, both Betor and Kim will be hard pressed to actually sell the proposal to both. 2x52=104. 104 calls out the 3600 calls that SEMS is activated to respond for. There may be more than that, but going on the numbers Betor has, that is not sell able. And putting an FD Ambulance in service for those 104 calls will not generate the Revenue that he thinks is will.

Bottom line is, what the hell is Ron Kim doing, submitting for a CON, or trying to outsource jobs he is not overseeing? He better pick one or the other. Either way, he's going to piss a lot of people off in the process. If public Safety is responsible for the delivery and transport of persons in need of medical care, why so many years ago, did the City Council let SEMS go as City Employees and allow then to become a private entity? Sounds to me that they would have had better control over the WHOLE EMS System in the City if they did everything in their power to prevent that from ever happening in the First place.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 1106

Believe it or not, it's always been about securing the future and improving the EMS services in the City. That includes securing SEMS employees. The real culprits here are the President of SEMS and the board. These people are irresponsible and irrational at best. And everyone franckly knows it. It's all about protecting what they believe is their god given right to play on an ambulance once a week. They don't care about the employees, they only care about their sandbox. They've only changed when it was forced upon them and they have thumbed their noses at any effort by the City to help secure them and their employees. Three seperate administrations couldn't deal with these nuckleheads and Kim finally said enough is enough. and by the way the ambulance idea came from the Curley administration, the RFP was the choice of last resort.

ANON 8:40

The City does not have to prove anything...they will file a mini-con which gives the City the CON presumptively. History lesson: SEMS pulled their employees out of the City employees positions, not the City Council. Mainly because they did not want any oversight from anyone other than their board. They are very secretive about what they do.

4:20 AM  
Anonymous I'm jealous of Val's new beau said...

Ron Kim for mayor? I just hurled.

He's not qualified to have Skippy's old dog catcher job.

I have an idea:

Lets offer him the job of cat catcher. He can have it for a lifetime, if he'll just disappear from elected office in return.

Now there's a deal the citizens of this city will surley agree to...

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's so such about Securing the Jobs of SEMS Employees, why is it that the City has never offered jobs to the SEMS employees, and continue to try and make a deal with their administration? I'm pretty sure that if if Ron Kim himself offered each and everyone of the SEMS Employees Fulltime Jobs running EMS for the City of Saratoga Springs, with full benefits, that the SEMS Employees will take it.

Then the Employees at SEMS and the FD can set a date that the Transition of services will take place, the Ron Kim will get what he wants, no more SEMS.

Offering out an RFP to a service outside of the city is not the answer for the City's needs. Mohawk more than likely wouldn't come into the City, and 911 are not their bread and butter, so to speak. The Inter-facility Transports are(Hospital to Hospital, Hospital to Home, Hospital to WMA, Hospital to Nursing Home). SEMS and SSFD both know that Empire Ambulance Service holds the Inter-facility contract for Saratoga Hospital.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous OBI's New Orleans Pasta said...

The Key word here is CON. The city should beware whenever the word CON is used. There was more than enough con jobs with McTygue for 30 years. Please no Cons! McTygue did enough to cost us tax payers for years to come.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:09

PSC Curley offered to take on SEMS employees and once again SEMS administration said no and refused to have any further discussions. Maybe it's time that SEMS employees step up and take control of their own destiny and get off the side lines. Put pressure on those you claim to lead you...your beef isn't with the fire department or kim...the enemy is within...and you all know that...it's your future.

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael says:

The solution is to charge SEMS rent to use the space in the West Ave Firehouse as a new revenue stream. Then leave the emergency medical service in Saratoga Springs alone. No more no less.

The SEMS will need to increase their service charge to enable paying the rent. But that will be less than if city government takes it over.

The taxpayers benifit because there would not be another department of government to be fed.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 2:55

Once again I ask you, why doesn't the oh wise one Ron Kim offer jobs to the SEMS Employees, and not deal with the administration. Leave their administration out of it. There is no putting pressure on the sandbox leaders, because they don't listen to what the employees want.

SEMS has told the FD before when they've been asked

"did you take the civil service test?"

some of us do not live in the city.

The response they've gotten is

"Don't worry about it, we'll take care of you"

Our Response was "if you want to take care of us, Make the employees and offer, and stop dealing with the SEMS Administration"

That is as far as it has gotten. The FD and Mr. Kim don't listen, they just keep dealing with the Administration. Maybe it's time for the Local 343 and the Local 1222 from SEMS to get together and come to an agreement. Screw the SEMS Board.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Parsley,Sage,Rosemary and Tighe said...

I shall run for office! I have all the backing of the independent(Cult worthy) Party. We can overcome. "We'll come rejoicing, Bringing in the sheep."
When we dispose of the Democrats we will rule the world!

5:45 PM  

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