Mayor Kathy Taylor today announced that the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) will continue to provide emergency medical services and ambulance services to Tulsa citizens.
The mayor and key advisors have been considering for several months the option to renew the City’s contract with EMSA or whether to allow the Tulsa Fire Department to provide those services. The Mayor commissioned a study group to hear presentations and gather data from both the TPD and EMSA regarding operational plans, funding mechanisms, quality of service and other factors.
“Without question, my top priority is quality of care. I refuse to compromise in any way the care Tulsans receive from emergency medical providers. With EMSA and the Tulsa Fire Department working together as first responders we can continue to deliver the highest quality emergency medical services possible.
“I want to commend both EMSA and the Tulsa Fire Department for their earnest cooperation and assistance during this study in the past few months. Both organizations shared the ultimate goal of making sure that Tulsans receive the best emergency services and the fastest response times during critical medical situations.
“EMSA President Stephen Williamson, Tulsa Fire Chief Allen LaCroix and their staffs worked diligently to provide the information needed for this study,” said Mayor Taylor. “And their purpose never waivered: they want what is best for Tulsa.”
EMSA has provided ambulance service and emergency medical care to Tulsa and some neighboring communities, as well as in Oklahoma City, for nearly 30 years. The authority was created in 1977 and began service in 1978.
In the current fiscal year, the City was asked to subsidize EMSA operations for the first time, in the amount of $1.9 million. It was the first time such a subsidy has been necessary. EMSA officials say lowering of ambulance fees paid by the federal government for Medicare patients has reduced revenues since 2002. Cash reserves allowed EMSA to continue to operate without additional subsidies until this fiscal year.
“Tulsans have relied upon EMSA for high-quality emergency medical service for nearly 30 years. We take very seriously our responsibility to the citizens and are pleased with Mayor Taylor’s decision,” said Williamson. “It is an honor and pleasure to work with our first responders, the Tulsa Fire Department, to care for patients during their times of need.”
Tulsa Fire Chief Allen LaCroix also welcomed the decision. “Our ultimate concern through this process has not been about whether EMSA or the Fire Department provides services, but that the citizens get the best emergency medical service now and in the future,” he said.
“The Fire Department makes thousands of runs each year to provide first-responder medical service. Our firefighters work very well with EMSA’s professional crew members. We will continue to add paramedics to our department to allow us to provide a greater level of care to our community,” LaCroix said.
EMSA serves more than 1.1 million Oklahomans in 16 communities in the state’s two largest urban areas. It operates a fleet of 65 ambulances and utilizes the talents of nearly 500 medics and support personnel.