COLLEGE PLACE — Looking at a possible cutback in ambulance services, City Council members gave a green light Tuesday for a study to see if the city could take on transport of some patients.

Council members voted unanimously to contract with the FCS Group of Redmond, Wash., for an ambulance utility feasibility study at a cost not to exceed $26,270.

The action follows a discussion started last summer after Walla Walla officials approached the city for financial assistance to provide ambulance services. At a workshop in July, College Place Fire Chief David Winter said Walla Walla was seeking an additional sum of about $68,000 to provide advanced life support ambulance service to College Place.

Walla Walla has also requested financial assistance from the eight fire districts in the county, Winter said at the time.

At Tuesday’s meeting, City Administrator Mike Rizzitiello told the Council that because Walla Walla wants to significantly increase the charge for ambulance service, the College Place needs to look at whether, at the least, it would be better to provide patient transports requiring only basic life support services.

In response to a question from Council member Loren Peterson, Winter said the city’s total number of ambulance runs is roughly 900 per year out of a total of 5,800 made by the Walla Walla Fire Department.

One roadblock to providing transports has been removed because the city Fire Department has obtained a state license to perform basic life support, Rizzitiello said.

“But we need the study to see if it truly pencils out or not,” he said. The study is also needed to get state reimbursements “should we go down that avenue.”

According to the proposed timeline provided by FCS Group, a “kickoff” meeting will be held next week with city officials and results will be presented in mid-April.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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