AKRON, Ohio — American Medical Response (AMR) on Tuesday officially closed its Akron facility on South Broadway Street.
The company notified the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services of its decision to close its Akron facility this past spring. The locations closing resulted in the permanent layoff of 25 emergency medical technicians, 20 paramedics, one mechanic and four supervisors.
The closing of AMR, which served as a subcontractor to handle non-emergency calls for transport, will put increased strain on the Akron Fire Department. During an Akron City Council budget meeting earlier this year, the city's fire chief estimated that the loss of AMR would increase the AFD's transport workload by 142%.
So why is AMR leaving?
In an email to 3News back in June, a spokesperson for AMR said "reduced demand for non-emergency transports, severe inflation, low government reimbursement, and other factors have made continuing along our current path unsustainable in Akron."
But according to a release from Akron Fire Chief Joseph Natko, the parting of the ways between the city and AMR came after negotiations for a new contract failed. Natko says AMR told the city several months ago that unless it paid the company a "significant subsidy," the contract with Akron would not be renewed.
"This payment of a subsidy was untenable for the City of Akron and its taxpayers," Natko stated. "The decision was made to support Akron Fire with increased staffing and resources to compensate for the additional non-emergency patient transports that will be conducted by Akron Fire starting August 1, 2023."
What's next for AMR employees in Akron?
"AMR has been a partner with Akron for more than 50 years and will work with the Fire Department to assist with a smooth transition, with the needs of our employees and citizens of Akron foremost," AMR's spokesperson said.
The company is planning to hold a job fair for the 50 Akron employees to find work elsewhere. AMR is also assisting employees in transferring to other open positions. A severance package is being provided.
"We very much want to keep these individuals working on board AMR ambulances. We have openings in nearby Ohio and New York operations, and employees will be encouraged and welcomed gladly there," the AMR spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, Natko says his department is ready to handle the increased workload. "The men and women of Akron Fire are incredibly resilient and have been preparing to handle this additional patient transport load," he stated. "Because of our employees, and due to the support of the City, Akron Fire will continue to adapt to the ever changing environment of Emergency Medical Services and provide excellent care to Akron’s patients."
How will this affect EMS calls?
Per a Tuesday release from the Akron Firefighters Association Local 330, fire and EMS crews expect an increase of roughly 13,000 transports per year. In an effort to lessen the workload, the union says its ambulances will only transport patients who require paramedic care, while remaining calls will be handled by fire engines staffed with a minimum of three EMTs who "will provide medical care until a paramedic unit can arrive."
"It is important to note that Akron Fire has not transported every EMS patient contact," the union stressed in a Facebook post. "AFD paramedics are trained to triage patients, render care, and determine a means of transport. That practice will continue."
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