Town of Lancaster claims Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps breached mutual aid agreement, Part II: Town/LVAC correspondences
By Lee Chowaniec
Aug 17, 2011, 14:01
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Whereas the Town of Lancaster wished to keep the mutual aid disagreement private and handled through executive session meetings, Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps (LVAC) attorney Bradley Pinsky opted to have the correspondences that were exchanged between the town and LVAC made public.
Pinsky believed making the public aware of what was in the correspondences would best serve his client and the residences by clearly showing LVAC did not breach its contract obligations and should not be held culpable for any delays in responding to emergency calls.
Pinsky did hand out three correspondences to the media. I was also fortunate to get one.
April 11, 2011 – Town of Lancaster Attorney John Dudziak to Bradley Pinsky (LVAC)
I am writing on behalf of the Town of Lancaster (“Town”) with regard to the Town’s contract with Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Inc. (“LVAC”).
LVAC for many years utilized Rural Metro for purposes of the position of mutual aid. However, by communication dated February 21, 2011 (copy enclosed), LVAC notified Rural Metro that it was terminating its mutual aid agreement. LVAC further presented the Town with a new proposed “EMS Mutual Aid Agreement” (copy enclosed) utilizing Twin City Ambulance as LVAC’s mutual aid provider.
As you know, in February 2011, the Town and LVAC executed an extension agreement for ambulance service within the Town for 2011 (the “Agreement”). That Agreement provides as follows as Section 4 with regards to mutual aid:
Town recognizes that on some occasions no ambulance may be available due to Ambulance’s lack of vehicles and/or personnel to respond to all emergencies for which it contracts to provide services, both within and without the Town’s boundaries. Any mutual aid agreement which ambulance is a party and which applies to service within the Town boundaries shall be subject to approval by the Town.
The Town has not provided LVAC with “approval” of the new proposed aid agreement, as specifically required by Section 4 of the Agreement. Nonetheless, the Town has discovered that LVAC has apparently implemented the new proposed mutual aid arrangement as demonstrated by certain communications issued by LVAC to the Town’s fire companies on or about April 1, 2011, as well as by reports that LVAC called Twin City this past weekend to provide mutual aid, and a Twin City ambulance responded in the Bowmansville area.
Please be advised the Town considers LVAC’s actions in this regard to constitute a breach of the Agreement between the parties. LVAC must immediately cure this breach or the Town will consider responding consistent with Section 12 of the Agreement.
In addition, I wish to inform you that the Town has completed its evaluation of the proposed mutual aid agreement with Twin City, and has considered input from a variety of sources, including from representatives of the Town’s fire companies. The Town hereby rejects the new proposed mutual aid arrangement with Tin City as not being in the best interest of the Town’ residents, including due to the Town’s judgment that the resources Twin City has available for purpose of mutual aid within the Town are inferior to the resources that Rural Metro has made and will make available for such purpose.
The Town invites LVAC to submit an alternative mutual aid arrangement for the Town’s consideration pursuant to Section4 of the Arrangement. Meantime the Town urge LVAC to roll-over (or, if you wish, renew) the expired mutual aid agreement with Rural Metro to ensure coverage within the Town boundaries until such time a new mutual aid arrangement is approved by the Town. If LVAC declines to do so, the Town will act consistent with Section 6(B) of the Agreement, i.e., if an LVAC ambulance and crew is not available to respond to a call, the Town’s emergency dispatch center will instead “call out Rural Metro, its successor in interest, or any other available service for ambulance response.” Please be advised that LVAC may use only one of its own ambulances (i.e., an ambulance owned by LVAC) to respond to calls under its agreement with the Town. The use of any other ambulance by LVAC would constitute a violation of Section 4 and/or Section 21 of the Agreement between the parties.
Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this very important matter. Otherwise, the Town expects LVAC to act consistent with its Agreement with the Town and with the interests of the Town’s residents.
John M. Dudziak, Esq.
April 20, 2011 – return letter from Pinsky to Dudziak
We have received your April 11, 2011 letter regarding Rural Metro and the Town’s disfavor of the mutual aid agreement.
It is important to note that in the last six months, mutual aid has never been utilized. The well executed response of Twin City to Bowmansville never fully came to fruition, as the Twin City ambulance was cancelled en route and LVAC responded to the request for the ambulance. Thus, the issues discussed have yet to be of any consequence. That being said, LVAC is certainly concerned that the residents receive the most prompt mutual aid ambulance possible, regardless of the provider.
Your letter of April 11, 2011 which arrived in my office on April 18 with attachments leads me to believe that the town has not seen the actual mutual aid “plan”, but has only seen the mutual aid “agreement”. I have attached that plan to this letter. To summarize the plan, once LVAC only one crew remaining in house, Twin City Ambulance will move an ambulance to LVAC’s headquarters. Twin City would respond only if the last crew responds to another emergency and no other LVAC crew re-enters the town of Lancaster. In the event a Twin City ambulance is not available to respond to LVAC headquarters, the town’s dispatcher is instructed to contact Rural Metro. This dispatch is almost immediate if no one at LVAC headquarters answers up. We will provide an executed agreement of the plan to you quickly.
Placing a Twin City ambulance in LVAC’s headquarters is of critical importance to this plan. We would agree that Rural Metro probably has more ambulances in the vicinity of the town than does Twin City. However, the plan requires Twin City to place an ambulance in LVAC’s headquarters. If it does not or cannot, Rural Metro will be utilized as the mutual aid provider.
The benefits of the plan far exceed any arrangement in the past. First, Rural Metro has never and still does not guarantee to have any ambulance available in town or in LVAC’s quarters as soon as LVAC has only one ambulance crew remaining in house. Thus, under the past arrangement, there was no guarantee that Rural Metro would have any ambulance available in the town of Lancaster or centrally located in the town. Common sense dictates that an ambulance located in LVAC headquarters must be preferable to the “hop” that Rural Metro will have an ambulance somewhere in the town of Lancaster.
The letter states that Twin City ambulances are inferior to Rural Metro. We respectfully request a detailed list of those “resources” which Twin City has made available which are, according to you, “inferior to the resources that Rural Metro has made and will make available for such purpose.” We are not aware of such resources, other than the fact that Rural Metro was more likely to have ambulances in the vicinity of the town than Twin City.
Twin City provides advanced life support ambulances
available to Lancaster residences. These ambulances provide the same care as Rural Metro, except of course that Twin City has guaranteed to make an ambulance available in LVAC’s headquarters.
We note that Jeffery Myers, LVAC’s medical director has approved of the mutual aid plan. Certainly a physician believes this agreement to be in the best interest of the residents. We hope the town will agree with a physician’s opinion.
Your letter states that the town has spoken to representatives of the fire companies. We are guessing that the fire companies were not made aware of the plan itself. If you have shared the plan with the fire companies, then we would like to receive a list of those individuals with whom you have spoken, as our client has spoken with numerous fire companies as well and have not received any actual reason against the mutual aid plan. In the hopes of understanding the positions of those allegedly consulted, please provide us the names of the representatives whom you spoke to so that we can confirm their understanding and views of LVAC’s mutual aid agreement. We want to ensure that the fire company representatives are not expressing different views within the same organization.
We would like to be present at a town board meeting when the actual mutual aid plan is discussed so that we can offer input and respond to any questions or concerns. Please provide my client a date to be present and we will certainly attend. We thank the town for its consideration in the matter.
Bradley M. Pinsky
July 28 letter – from Town Attorney Dudziak to LVAC attorney Pinsky
I am writing on behalf of the Town of Lancaster (“Town”) with regard to circumstances that arose on July 13, 2011 in relation to the Town’s Agreement with the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps (“LVAC”).
These are the facts based upon the information provided to me: At 13:45 on July 13, 2011, the Townline Fire Company and LVAC were alerted to an EMS call at 50 Grambo for a female suffering shortness of breath. LVAC 824 advised Lancaster Dispatch that LVAC had no available ambulances, and LVAC repeatedly instructed Dispatch to call Twin City Ambulance to respond. As a result Twin City was called for a response at 13:49. At 13:58, LVAC 1016 notified Dispatch that he was able to respond to 50 Grambo in his personal vehicle, and LVAC 1016 arrived at 50 Grambo at 14:01. Twin City 245 then arrived at 50 Grambo at 14:05.
Based on the above timeline, LVAC 1016 arrived at 50 Grambo approximately 16 minutes after the initial call, and Twin City 245 arrived approximately 20 minutes after the initial call. During the entire period, Rural Metro had a vehicle available at Broadway and Transit, and another vehicle available at its Duke Road headquarters location, both of which would have responded on a much more timely basis that either the LVAC or Twin City vehicles.
As you know, I wrote to you in April regarding the status of the mutual aid agreement to be utilized in conjunction with the Agreement between the Town and LVAC (copy enclosed). I reiterated that the Town has not provided LVAC with “approval” of the mutual aid arrangement proposed by LVAC, as specially required by Section 4 of the Agreement. Instead, I notified you that, absent an approved mutual aid arrangement to the contrary, the Town would act in accordance with Section 6(B) of the Agreement, i.e., if an LVAC ambulance and crew is not available to respond to the call, the Town’s emergency dispatch will instead “call out Rural Metro, its successor in interest, or any other available service for ambulance response.” I further affirmed that LVAC must use one of its own ambulances (i.e., an ambulance owned by LVAC) to respond to calls under its Agreement with the Town, and that use of any other ambulances by LVAC would constitute a violation of Section 4 and/or Section 21 of the Agreement between the parties, To date, the Town has not approved any mutual aid arrangement by LVAC.
Please be advised that the Town considers LVAC’s actions on July 13, 2011 (i.e., repeatedly instructing Dispatch to first call Twin City for mutual aid backup) to constitute a breach of the Agreement between the parties and constitute bad faith with regard with regard to LVAC’s implementation of the Agreement. I also note that it appears that LVAC’s insistence on using Twin City as the first call for mutual aid appears, in this instance, to have significantly delayed the response time for the call at 50 Grambo.
Because this is the second time the Town has found LVAC to be in breach of the Agreement, the Town Board has scheduled an executive session at 8:45 p.m., on Monday, August 1, 2011 to review, the status of the LVAC Agreement and to discuss the Town’s response to the event’ of July 13, 2011 as described above. Both I and the Town’s outside counsel, Jeffery F. Swiatek of Hodgson Russ, LLP, will be present. The Town request that LVAC have a representative(s) present at this meeting, and you are also invited to participate either in person or by telephone if you wish. The meeting will take place in the Town Hall conference room.
Please confirm LVAC’s attendance at this meeting as soon as possible. Meantime, the Town expects LVAC to consist both with the Agreement and with the interests of the Town’s residents.
John M. Dudziak
NEXT: Part III: Whose best interests are being served?
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