Some lawmakers said they're still skeptical about changes coming to Indianapolis-area ambulance service Jan. 1.
The new Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services Department will be a partnership between the Indianapolis Fire Department, Wishard Memorial Hospital, Indiana University School of Medicine and the Health and Hospital Corporation.
The newly created department, which will report to the Department of Public Safety, will be the first of its kind in the country, but EMS Chief Dr. Charles Miramonti said the project's organizers have a wealth of experience.
"We know what the challenges are going to be and we know where the shortcomings are going to be and we've really been able to design around that and work collaboratively to get around those issues," he told 6News' Joanna Massee.
But state Rep. Phil Hinkle, R-Indianapolis, said he doesn't believe the public will benefit from the change, including having a doctor heading the new department.
"To me, it's kind of like putting the Noble Peace Prize winner for chemistry in charge of the sewer treatment plant," he said. "It's definitely overkill."
Marion County Libertarian Party chairman Timothy McGuire also questioned the cost savings.
"This is probably being done under the guise that it's going to save money, but what we've found in the past couple mergers is that they really don't save that much money," he said.
Miramonti stressed that the new department will operate without a budget for the first year and said he expected Indianapolis EMS to be in the black in three to five years, as long as there are no hiccups.
Unlike other city department heads, he will not earn a set salary from the city.
"The way it essentially works is I'm on loan from the (Indiana University) School of Medicine," he said. "It's really time out of the emergency department that the school absorbs and that the city absorbs."
Ron Kautsky, vice presidents of Indianapolis Professional Firefighters union Local 416, said his members support the move.
"I think on day one the public won't notice any difference," he said. "I mean, the same people are going to be on the same trucks that they're on right now, but through a process they'll be able to better identify where they can shift resources."
The areas that will be covered by the new EMS service will include downtown Indianapolis and Speedway, along with Franklin, Lawrence, Perry, Warren and Washington townships. Decatur, Pike and Wayne townships, which have not merged with IFD, will continue to handle their own emergency medical runs.
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