In an effort to ensure the highest quality care, the City Council designated a committee comprised of medical professionals, financial officers of the city, and union representatives to study the city’s ambulance system. The issues considered by the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee were patient care and governance.
We are fortunate that the current EMS system in Kansas City provides excellent patient care. If that were the only consideration, there would be no compelling reason to change the current system.
However, the public utility model that has governed MAST for more than 30 years is no longer the preferred governance structure across the country. There are only a few cities that still use this model. Most cities have either incorporated emergency medical services as a city department, developed a structure under their fire or health department, contract with area hospitals, and some directly contract with private providers. The reasons include eliminating duplicative back-office functions, ensuring seamless coordination, streamlining management, and cost-control.
The recommendation of the committee was that MAST should begin the process of integration as a stand-alone city department. The City Council voted to develop this plan over the next 6-12 months. There are many issues to work out in the plan: legal, financial, and personnel issues.
The city is committed to maintaining its quality MAST personnel. The City Council agreed to allow MAST employees living outside city limits to remain in their current homes. If an employee moves, he or she must move into Kansas City. Consistent with current residency requirements, all new hires must live in Kansas City.
Kansas Citians are fortunate to have excellent quality emergency services. Integrating the EMS as a part of the city’s total emergency response system will reassure our residents that in the case of an emergency we can address a single event or a major catastrophe efficiently and effectively.
Jan Marcason is a Kansas City, Missouri City Councilwoman for Fourth District, In-District.