Fight over ambulance continues in Utica
The city of Utica and privately-owned ambulances have been in a legal battle for years. The privately owned companies believe the city ambulance is a duplicate service. But their fight could soon be over. A new bill was passed through the State Assembly regarding the certificate of need process. As our Iris St. Meran explains, both sides are waiting to see what the State Senate will do.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- A nearly decade-old battle between the Utica Fire Department and a privately owned ambulance company may be reaching a tipping point in the state legislature.
Tuesday, the State Assembly passed a bill to remove the certificate of need for municipal ambulances, a review process municipal EMS services go through two years after they are established.
For the past seven or eight years, the city has operated its own ambulance within the fire department. Something Kunkel Ambulance Service doesn't think is necessary.
Kunkel Ambulance Service Vice President Catherine Kunkel said, "After years of litigation, after we have complied with and followed the judicial system, prove that there is no need for a municipal ambulance, we have reached the steps of the State's highest court, the Court of appeals."
According to Kunkel, she would like to wait on the court's decision rather than have the state step in. In a press conference on Saturday, she said her business has taken a hit since the city has operated its own service, forcing Kunkel to make changes including wage freezes.
However, the fire department said between the two services, there are an estimated 20,000 calls that come in each year. They said it would be a disservice to those callers with only one provider in town.
Utica Fire Department Assistant Chief George Clark said, "It's a loss of safety. There's many times Kunkel and ourselves have both been busy and we've had to call a third party and sometimes a fourth party in. So there would be a definite loss of service."
One thing both agree one is the desire to have this battle done with. We have to wait and see when that will happen.