David Rudat
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Emergency Response Times Improve In Orange
February 28, 1997

A five-minute increase in emergency response times has been recorded since the Orange Fire Department launched the Emergency Medical Transportation Program 16 months ago, officials reported at the Orange City Council meeting Tuesday.

"We've increased what you get for $36 a year," said Mayor Joanne Coontz.

According to fire department officials, the goals set at the program's birth in October 1995 have been met. These include improved ambulance response times when arriving to emergency situations, no increase in the $36 ambulance subscription fee for residents and a savings of $300,000 to the city's General Fund by supporting certain fire department positions with the EMT Transport Fund.

"We anticipate it will continue to provide that measure to the General Fund," said City Manager David Rudat. More than a year ago Rudat, who was fire chief before becoming city manager, was instrumental in instigating the fire department's ambulance program to replace contracts with private transport companies. "It's created a windfall benefit," Rudat said.

By June of this year, fire officials predict "breaking even" and making a profit months ahead of schedule. "We took a lot of criticism," said Councilman Mike Spurgeon as he reflected on the problems encountered while starting the city-based program. "But the bottom line is it's a public safety issue."

The dramatic increase in response times caught the attention of councilmembers.

"I don't know if you can put any price tag on that," said Councilman Mark Murphy, referring to the potential to save countless lives.

In previous years the city contracted with private ambulance companies, such as Medix Ambulance Service and CareLine Inc. The former is still pursuing a lawsuit against the city, claiming that Orange didn't enter into a competitive bidding process before it cancelled Medix's service.