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College Place officials are rethinking ambulance service

Photo courtesy of College Place Fire Department.

COLLEGE PLACE, Washington — One issue that College Place has been running into is transportation via ambulance for citizens of the city.

The ambulance service from Walla Walla to College Place has been up and running “since the 1980s,” says College Place Mayor Harvey Crowder. “If people needed to be transported, the city of Walla Walla’s ambulance service would come out and transport.” 

City Administrator Mike Rizzitello says that the service was paid for by an EMS Property Tax Levy that is collected countywide and then dispersed among all the fire and EMS agencies across the county proportional to the population served and the type of service provided. The EMS Levy sufficed for covering the ambulance service for many years but now the city of Walla Walla says there are greater costs that the EMS Levy does not cover, therefore they want agencies to also cover their proportion of demand costs.

College Place officials have applied for and received a license from the Washington State Department of Health to begin ambulance transport from the city.

“Right now we’re contracting with a set of engineering studies to take a look at its costs and how we best do that,” says Crowder, and “what kind of fee structure should we look at to be able to start transporting people from of from our calls within the city.” 

The ambulance service looks to partner with Providence-St. Mary Medical Center, or perhaps hospitals further off. The City of College Place also owns a used ambulance vehicle that was bought from Dayton. This vehicle was used to transport fire staff and some equipment to accident scenes and other areas where people and equipment were needed. However, City Administrator Mike Rizitellio says it could be used as an ambulance unit.

“It’s complex,” says Crowder. “We haven’t done it for a long time. We want to make sure we get it right the first time and make sure that both the city of Walla Walla and us gain the benefit of how we move patients from the city over to our hospitals.”

“Next steps are we are getting an ambulance utility rate study done by FCS Group,” says Rizitellio. “I would expect this study would be done in about three months. The study will tell us if it is truly financially feasible to run an ambulance service.”

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