By Kelly Smith
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
DELAFIELD, Wisc. — Fire Chief Jack Edwards's skills as an entrepreneur is one of the reasons he was appointed fire chief in the City of Delafield in 2006 and was later named chief of Lake Country Fire and Rescue. Edwards acknowledges that those skills are going to come in handy during the next year.
Lake County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) has recently lost about $100,000 in revenue as a result of contract terminations. About $70,000 in revenue was lost when the Aurora Medical Center in Summit notified the department that it no longer wanted to pay a retainer for LCFR paramedic ambulance service. The retainer fee assured the hospital that LCFR would respond with a paramedic ambulance and crew within 30 minutes of the hospital's request to assist in the non emergency transfer of a patient.
Edwards said the hospital continues to use the paramedic ambulance transport service provided by LCFR. Aurora and Edwards Oconomowoc Memorial hospitals pay LCFR to provide nonemergency paramedical-level transport services for patients who are being moved from one hospital to another.
Edwards said Aurora has increased the number of medical specialties provided at the Summit hospital which has apparently reduced the number of patients they are transferring to other hospitals and reduced the need for the retainer.
The regional fire department lost another $30,000 at the end of 2012 when the Village of Sussex indicated it would no longer need LCFR's assistance in providing the village with paramedic-level emergency medical response. For the past several years, the village had provided paramedic-level services under the auspices of a state license issued to the City of Delafield paramedic program. The Delafield department received a share of the medical fees for those services as part of the licensing contract.
Last week, the Sussex Village Board approved the village fire department obtaining its own license to operate the village's paramedic program.
The revenues from other contracts similar to Aurora Hospital and the Village of Sussex have been a critical source of income for the paramedic program since its inception in the late-1990s when it was operated by the City of Delafield.
The ability to secure and maintain contracts was so important to the program that Delafield city officials listed entrepreneurial skills as one of the important qualifications for a candidate seeking to replace for Chief Allyn Swayze in 2006. Edwards believes one of the reasons he got the job was because he was familiar with the entrepreneur culture of the department. Edwards plans to use the entrepreneurial spirit of the department to make up for some of the lost revenues. He said he will be in contact with medical specialty departments within the hospitals who have specialized medical skills that might need the support of a paramedic ambulance service.
"In the past, we haven't focused as much on the departments that provide medical specialties. We are hoping they may be a new source of contracts for us," he said. He will also be on the outlook for surrounding communities willing to contract LCFR for paramedic services.
Edwards acknowledged that each of the three communities - City of Delafield and the villages of Nashotah and Chenequa - may also have to increase their payments to help fund the department's nearly $2 million annual budget.
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