Raytown considers transferring EMS to fire protection district to save money

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- Raytown leaders are considering getting rid of the city-run EMS department to save money. They say they also can improve efficiency by transferring emergency medical services control over to the Fire Protection District.

EMS Director Doug Jonesi disputed those claims at Raytown's Board of Aldermen meeting Thursday, and Local 1730's president criticized alleged backroom deals that could cost paramedics their jobs.

“Despite all our attempts to be included in vitally impactful conversations and decisions that have a significant effect on the men and women who we represent, they were met with this, a memo," Taylor Seedorff, Raytown Firefighters and Paramedics Local 1730 president, told the Board of Aldermen.

The memo issued over the weekend announced that the city of Raytown and the Raytown Fire Protection District were in negotiations to transfer emergency medical services to the fire district.

Raytown’s Assistant City Administrator Damon Hodges clarified at a press conference Tuesday that the negotiations began in May, as evidenced by the multi-page agreement being on the agenda Tuesday night.

The release posted on the city's website says, "The planned agreement will create an opportunity for increased services and decreased response times."

Jonesi said the response time right now averages just over 5 minutes,

Raytown Fire Protection District Chief Matt Mace said a bigger staff of firefighters cross-trained as paramedics or EMTs would reduce the times the city had to call on Kansas City for EMS. Mace said that's happened 186 times so far this year.

"These are the services that our residents want, need and we should provide," Mace said.

Jonesi said the number of mutual aid calls is actually 105, and the city won’t save nearly as much as the $1.5 million advertised. With the money it brings in, he said his department only costs the city $122,000 a year.

“This is not an emergency. The people of Raytown receive timely service and excellent care from Raytown EMS," Jonesi said.

EMS employees packed Tuesday's meeting wondering what could happen to their jobs.

"If the agreement goes through, we will no longer have an emergency medical services department, so there would not be an employment opportunity in that sense," Hodges said.

According to the planned agreement, 13 current full-time Raytown EMS medics would get first opportunity to fill new roles at the Raytown Fire Protection District if the deal goes into effect November 17th. However, each would need to be trained as a firefighter.

“We are willing to work with them on all avenues we can," Mace said.

No vote was taken Tuesday. Even if Raytown's Board of Aldermen votes to transfer the EMS license, the public would have to vote on a fire levy to fund operations for the license to officially be transferred.

Raytown voters rejected three tax measures in August. The Raytown Board of Aldermen also made budget cuts last year that drastically reduced the city's police force.