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Ambulance board opposes MAST merger

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Supporting the Metropolitan Ambulance Service Trust (MAST) is what the Southern Platte County Ambulance District (SPCAD) resolved to do at a meeting last Wednesday.

The district approved a resolution on Thursday opposing a proposed consolidation of MAST with the Kansas City Fire Department. The resolution was approved by the board after hearing from Doug Hooten, MAST executive director.

Kansas City is considering consolidating the fire department and MAST in order to save money and reduce an estimated $85 million budget shortfall.

“It is a difference of opinion about the philosophy of delivering EMS (Emergency Medical Services),” said Hooten.

“Our resolution is in support of MAST,” said Bobby Kincaid, board president.

“What if Kansas City says no?” asked Scott Ritchey, board director. “The question I ask is where would that leave the ambulance district?”

“There is no answer to that yet,” said Hooten.

Martha Zirschky, director, asked what would happen if “the unthinkable happens” and MAST is consolidated with the fire department.

“If it happens it leaves us without a service,” said Kincaid.

“I have not heard any legal standing to take it over,” said Kincaid. “MAST serves 15 cities and 9 are within our district.”

During the discussion, Fred Sanchez, director, asked why the district should get involved and pass a resolution opposing the merger, if they do not have any control in the merger.

“It is more of a positive than a negative,” said Zirschky.

“It's reflecting the good service we've received,” said Ritchey. “It is not to sway or not sway.”

“The public good is our primary goal,” said Fred Sanchez. “It is a positive and not a negative. If it was a negative I wouldn't be voting for this.”

“It is a positive resolution and not condemning,” said Zirschky.

But the resolution isn’t completely written in the positive vein. The resolution states: “This merger will likely lead to the loss of the current excellent Physician Oversight and Review with the consequent decline in the quality of advanced life support EMS care and adverse impacts on the lives, health and safety of residents and visitors of the Kansas City Metropolitan area…”

“…this merger will likely lead to the loss of the current excellent 'MAST' administration and its historical EMS administration knowledge with the inevitable consequential management problems and lost links to the State Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Services, the Missouri Ambulance Association, the Missouri Emergency Medical Services Alliance, and to the Missouri Ambulance District Association.”

“By Board resolution adopted on March 18, 2009, the Board of the Southern Platte County Ambulance District wishes to go on record as adamantly, unconditionally, and unequivocally opposed to the proposed unplanned, ill-conceived, fiscally unsound and clearly unwise merger of the Kansas City Fire department and 'MAST' ambulance service operations and the Board further reserves the right to review its contractual relationship relating to 'MAST' and Kansas City as a result of said proposed merger of ambulance operations.”

The board approved the resolution with a vote of 6-0. Afterward, Kincaid presented Hooten with resolutions from Weatherby Lake, Parkville, Farley and the district.



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