Collier County offers two options for increasing ambulance coverage on Marco Island

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle

Marco Island City Council has tabled its discussion on increasing emergency medical services in the city until January after Collier County officials proposed two alternatives that would help achieve the city's goals.

Despite the failure of an Aug. 28 referendum that sought to create locally-controlled EMS services on Marco Island with a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, council opted to keep the discussion alive with the county to try and add additional coverage.

In an Oct. 16 letter to acting City Manager Guillermo Polanco, Collier County Manager Leo Ochs laid out two scenarios for extending seasonal service and adding a year-round ambulance on Marco Island after explaining that Marco Island’s peak services occur between December and April and between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Under its current agreement with the county, Marco Island already receives an additional ambulance from Dec. 1-April 30, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., seven days per week.

“Based upon the information above, it doesn’t appear that extending the term of the existing seasonal service will result in any significant increase in system performance or yield a positive return on investment,” Ochs wrote. “However, as a show of good faith, I would be willing to extend seasonal service an additional 30 days at county expense provided the city agrees to fund one of the following options to add a year-round ambulance on Marco Island.”

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The first option Ochs offered was to add an ambulance for 12 hours per day, seven days per week throughout the year.

Splitting the cost of staffing, both the county and city would pay $138,520.82 if that option were selected.

The second option places an additional ambulance 24 hours per day, seven days per week and for the entire year but shifts the majority of the costs to the city.

While the county’s costs would not differ from option one, the city’s costs would increase to $415,562.50.

“If the city choose option #2, the County’s funding commitment would be limited to the cost of the 12 hours per day unit for 12 months (Option #1),” Ochs wrote. “Based on the enclosed data, I cannot justify adding a 24 hour per day, 7 days per week second ambulance on Marco Island for 12 months.”

Ochs also noted that increasing service would require the hiring of six additional full-time employees because too much burden would be placed on staff to work overtime.

The purchase of an ambulance and equipment would also add an additional $280,000 cost to be split in some fashion by the city and county. Ochs wrote that the portions would be determined based upon which option Marco Island chose.

Councilor Jared Grifoni, who represented the City Council during negotiations with the county last month, characterized the offers as progress but said it was yet to be seen whether either option was right for the city until a more robust discussion can be had with staff and the new city council.

“I don’t think we’re quite ready at this point to make a decision in the affirmative on either of the two options,” Grifoni said. “Perhaps it may be a benefit for this to come back after a staff review and recommendation to provide us with some additional insight.”

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