Following the announcement that AMR Ambulance will leave Cayuga County, Auburn’s ambulance service says it will continue to serve the community.
IAFF Local 5379, the union representing Auburn City Ambulance workers, issued a statement reiterating its commitment to serving the city, writing the service will “continue to provide emergency medical services to the City of Auburn and is prepared to assist in other parts of Cayuga County when requested.”
Citing the rising costs of equipment, a shrinking pool of qualified workers, and sluggish reimbursement rates, AMR Ambulance announced in October that it would pull out of the county by the end of the year.
The union said it penned the letter due to confusion and speculation in some social media circles following AMR’s decision. At last week’s city council meeting, City Councilor Jimmy Giannettino addressed those rumors.
“There’s a false narrative going around this community regarding the ambulance service and AMR leaving the county, blaming the City of Auburn for taking on our ambulance service and that that’s causing AMR to leave the county,” Giannettino said. “It was my understanding that Mr Dygert, in his conversations with the director of AMR at those county-level meetings, that he assured us that this was not the case, that it was a business decision on their part.”
City Manager Jeff Dygert confirmed what Ginnattino said. He also added that city staff, along with representatives of nearly every ambulance service in the county, attended a meeting hosted by the Cayuga County Office of Emergency Services last week. Attendees discussed the impact of AMR’s decision to leave as well as alternatives to providing coverage to impacted areas.
Auburn City Ambulance was established in 2021 and is operated by the city.
The text of the union’s letter can be read below:
Auburn City Ambulance, operated by the City of Auburn was established in the fall of 2021 as an Advanced Life Support (ALS) transporting service. In 2022, the members joined the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) to create Local Union 5379 – Professional Emergency Medical Technicians of Auburn City Ambulance. Auburn City Ambulance has zero affiliation with any other services such as private commercial services. Auburn City Ambulance currently holds a Certificate of Need (CON) for only the City of Auburn, not the county. Since 2021, Auburn City Ambulance has been the primary provider for the City of Auburn, however will also respond as mutual aid into other districts.
Since November 2021, there has not been any other agency responsible for primarily serving the City of Auburn other than Auburn City Ambulance. Similar to any other emergency services models, services can be overwhelmed with call volume at any given time and rely on each other to assist with coverage. During the third quarter (July 1st- September 30th, 2023), Auburn City Ambulance covered 96.8% (1,998) requests for service while also responding into the county 57 times.
Stagnant reimbursement rates and non-payments for services provided creates an illusion of a vast deficit which is a problem that several emergency medical services agencies face. Many agency officials from different organizations have reached out to Legislators for assistance in getting insurance companies to deliver reimbursements directly to agencies rather than the patient.
In addition to responding to 911 calls, Auburn City Ambulance also provides a service to Auburn Community Hospital (ACH), as it is in the primary response area. This service includes transferring patients to tertiary care when ACH is unable to provide a higher level of care to a patient (i.e.- a cardiac patient requiring percutaneous coronary intervention). Historically, the primary service provider will also provide ambulances to handle these inter-facility transfers. Since the contract between the City of Auburn and TLC ceased, Auburn City Ambulance has done less transfers. Patients who require transfer to a hospital that requires a higher level of care still deserve the same timely care and is a practice that can be seen all over. Auburn City Ambulance providers make every attempt to transport patients to a tertiary facility from the field based on clinical judgement and this can take an ambulance out of service for up to three hours.
While private emergency medical services and volunteer agencies provide the same essential services and quality patient care, several Counties in the immediate area have approached the municipal ambulance model and so far, Livingston, Yates, Wayne and Madison Counties have successfully launched services. Local 5379 will continue to provide emergency medical services to the City of Auburn and is prepared to assist in other parts of Cayuga County when requested.
IAFF Local 5379