Lockport makes sudden switch to private ambulance service

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – In just 12 days, a new ambulance service will take over in the City of Lockport following a unanimous vote by the Lockport City Council.

Members voted Wednesday to contract with Twin City Ambulance for all of the first aid calls in the city, which for decades have been handled by paramedics on the Lockport City Fire Department.

The changes go into effect on September 15. The move is expected to save Lockport around $400,000 a year.

Resident Phyllis Green feels the changes are being rushed through and scolded the council, saying, “You should’ve done your homework.”

“The ambulances in this city have saved my life at least three times,” added Russell Bruning, “and to get rid of them and just throw them by the wayside is just ludicrous. We need those people here.”

By the end of the year, Lockport could be in a $4.6 million hole, and the city is looking to save money wherever it can.

But Fire Captain Thomas Lupo says those who need an ambulance will now pay more than $1,200 instead of about $800 that the Lockport service would charge.

“Someone is going to be left to pay for the shortfall,” he said.

Mayor Anne McCaffrey counters that most ambulance calls are paid for by Medicare or Medicaid, anyway.

“I want to say that in the past, taxpayers have been subsidizing the cost of ambulance for anybody who’s receiving an ambulance ride,” she explained.

There will also be a change involving 911 calls. Effective September 15, any Lockport resident who calls for fire or first aid service will be transferred from the city police dispatch to the Niagara County dispatchers.

“It’s really hard to change 40 years of tradition and how you’ve done things and now you have to rewrite guidelines and procedures for all these changes in basically seven days,” said Fire Captain Lupo. “I don’t know if it’s savings. What’s a life worth?”

City officials will hold a public information session next Wednesday, September 10 at 6 p.m. in City Hall to address residents’ concerns about the switch to Twin City Ambulance service.

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