A panel studying a proposal to enhance paramedic response time by creating a city-run ambulance service has sent the proposal back to staff for further review after hearing public testimony opposing it.
The Public Safety Committee, which includes Mayor John W. Hedges and Councilwoman Norma Glover, will reconsider the issue March 25.
Representatives from Santa Ana-based MedTrans Ambulance Inc. pleaded with the three-member panel Monday to find an alternative to the city taking over the ambulance operation.
Fire Chief Timothy D. Riley has proposed a two-part plan that he said would reduce average paramedic response time from eight minutes or less to five minutes or less and give the city a net revenue gain of $85,000 to $158,000 a year.
The proposal would phase out MedTrans service.
"We feel this would be a confiscation of our business in Newport Beach," said Tara Regan, spokeswoman for MedTrans.
"One of our contentions has been that when most people look at streamlining government, it is to the detriment of our business and our clients."
Regan told committee members that terminating MedTrans service would mean laying off the company's nine employees who serve Newport Beach.
"We don't think that creating a monopoly in the area is going to benefit the patient," she said.
Viki Cleary, the Fire Department's emergency medical services coordinator and co-author of the proposal, said that city residents would benefit, though, from having access to revenue that typically goes to the private company.
"Those revenues will come back to fund improvements for the public we serve," Cleary said.
Three of six fire stations in Newport Beach now have firefighters who are also paramedics. Under the proposal, all six stations would have paramedics.