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Fire Department To Take Over Ambulance Service

Ending weeks of debate, the city has decided to let its Fire Department take over emergency ambulance service.

Fire Chief David L. Rudat has faced bitter opposition to his plan to buy four ambulances and offer emergency care since he proposed the idea in May The two companies that have shared ambulance service in the city lobbied against the plan.

the City Council voted 4 to 1 this week to approve Rudat's proposal.

"While I understand the request to assist private industry, I also feel that our first priority is to offer the citizens of this city the maximum security and safety services possible, "Mayor Joanne Coontz said.

CareLine California has proposed taking over all ambulance service in the city.

"I'd like to know what government agency has made money in this country and what government agency has stayed within its budget." Blake MacPherson, CareLine's director of government affairs, said at Tuesday's council session.

Michael J. Dimas, president of Medix Ambulance Service, made a case for his company doing the job, saying that the Fire Department proposal would kill his business and cost private-sector jobs.

But Rudat won over the council, arguing that the service will be paid for by subscriber fees and reimbursement from Medicare and Medi-Cal. The $375,000 in start-up costs will be paid back with interest in five years, he said.