HUDSON, Wisc. -- The city of Hudson is considering transferring its emergency medical services from St. Croix EMS to Hudson Hospital, Lakeview Hospital and Health Partners.
The transfer would mean more than 20 St. Croix EMS emergency medical technicians would lose their jobs.
"Rumors are... that we don't care about public safety here for our residents of Hudson and that's just not true," said Rich O'Connor, mayor of Hudson. "Their safety, the service that we provide to them is paramount to us. Absolutely. But we have to weigh the consideration of the fact that there is an increasing cost to this service."
Mayor O'Connor said the transfer would mean 21 EMTs would lose their jobs.
Currently, the city of Hudson has three ambulances--one of those is an on-call ambulance. St. Croix EMS uses both EMTs and paramedics which require more training.
If the city transferred to Health Partners' Lakeview EMS model, the EMTs would be gone. Four to five paramedics could transfer to the new service. Under the Lakeview EMS model, there would be two ambulances based at Hudson Hospital with two paramedics per ambulance.
"We are reasonably assured that the response times are going to be as good, if not better, and we can say that because our ambulances are going to be housed right here as well as having back-up," Mayor O'Connor said.
But Tim Foster, president of the St. Croix EMS Commission told KARE 11 that plan does not include first responders--something the city would need to figure out.
Negotiations started last summer.
"Health Partners told the city they would provide the same level of service... I think the city of Hudson believed that included first responders. I think Health Partners believed they were going to provide the paramedic service," Foster said.
Foster stressed the fact that no decision has been made. When we asked Foster if he was frustrated by current negotiations, he said, "That's true and that isn't going to change unless they convince me that the level of service for our residents is not going to decline."
Hudson Hospital & Clinic told KARE 11 in a written statement, "Because there is no agreement in place regarding the purchase of St. Croix EMS and there are many details left to discuss, it's too early to comment on proposed structure changes. As Hudson Hospital & Clinic and Lakeview Hospital continue our conversations with the City of Hudson, our focus will remain on improving the health of our patients and the community."
City officials and St. Croix EMS staff held a meeting on Tuesday. EMTs were given a contract that says one way or the other, a decision will be made by Sept. 30. The city has also approved retention bonuses for most EMS staff.
The city will hold a public meeting on the matter in the next four to six weeks.
The service area includes the city of Hudson, the village of North Hudson, the town of Hudson and a portion of the town of Troy.