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EMS firm to pull out of region

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Greenwood might soon start a search for a new ambulance company to respond to emergency calls from car accidents, fires and medical issues in the city.

Ambulance operator Rural/Metro announced Monday that it is stopping operations in a number of central Indiana counties but didn’t specify which were affected.

Locally, the ambulance service provides three ambulances and 24 full- and part-time workers to the Greenwood Fire Department.

Greenwood Fire Chief James Sipes has a meeting scheduled with the company at 9 a.m. today, and he expects Rural/Metro to end its contract with the city.

“I’m assuming they’re going to tell me that they’re ceasing operations here. But I won’t know that until (today),” Sipes said.

If Rural/Metro ends the contract, Greenwood will have 90 days to replace its ambulances and workers, who respond to the minor and major injuries when residents call 911, Sipes said.

“We do what we do, and we plan on these types of issues,” Sipes said. “You’re not public safety if you’re not prepared to provide these services to your community.”

On the plan

On Monday, Rural/Metro announced it is ending operations in a number of central Indiana counties. Here are some of the details:

Why: The company, which filed for bankruptcy last year, made the decision after looking for ways to restructure and improve its municipal contracts

Who: Greenwood Fire Chief James Sipes has a meeting with Rural/Metro this morning and expects the company to end its contract with the department.

Greenwood contract: The city gets three ambulances and 24 full- and part-time workers.

What that means: The fire department will work with the city to find a new ambulance vendor within 90 days.

What now: Rural/Metro plans to continue operating in areas where there is more demand for emergency and nonemergency ambulance runs.

Other local fire departments, including those in Franklin, Bargersville and White River Township, don’t have contracts with Rural/Metro and won’t lose any of their ambulances or emergency workers if the company halts services here. The county’s fire departments routinely assist each other on calls, and Bargersville and White River Township fire departments may have to respond to additional calls depending on how quickly Greenwood finds a new ambulance service, fire chiefs said.

Rural/Metro decided to stop operating in multiple Indiana counties because of low transport volumes in rural areas, changes in health care, a growing number of people who are unable to pay for their care and low Medicaid reimbursement rates, according to a company news release. The company will continue to operate in areas where there are more emergency and nonemergency ambulance calls, the release said.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2013, and officials have spent the past year looking for ways to restructure and improve municipal contracts, according to the release.

Rural/Metro had a four-year contract with Greenwood that ended in April and was extended for another year. Both Greenwood and the company had the option to end the contract if they provide 90 days’ notice, Sipes said.

Sipes said he wasn’t surprised by Monday’s announcement, largely because of the company’s bankruptcy filing last year. If the company does end its contract with Greenwood, then Sipes will work with city officials to find another ambulance vendor. He thinks 90 days should be enough time to find a replacement.

“We won’t see any lack of ability to provide services,” Sipes said. “We’ll work through what our options are and select what’s best for our citizens and the safety of the community.”

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