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EMSA rate hike denial kicks can down the road

The money is needed to help pay for legal fees over a lawsuit against EMSA for an alleged kickback scheme (KTUL).

When the chips are down, the arrival of an ambulance brings a sigh of relief, but at the City Council meeting this week, the arrival of a rate hike proposal brought a sigh of frustration.

"I am convinced that our community has lost faith in the leadership, the administration of EMSA as it stands today," said Tulsa City Councilor Blake Ewing.

The money is needed to help pay for legal fees over a lawsuit against EMSA for an alleged kickback scheme. The council voted it down.

"It is a mess," said Tulsa City Councilor Phil Lakin.

Councilor Lakin was one of only two 'yes' votes for the hike. Why?

"This lawsuit that we're vigorously defending, it has to be paid," he said.

A 'no' vote now is essentially kicking the can down the road. But is it a road that will slow down ambulance response times?

"The last thing we're going to do is change response times," Lakin said.

Instead, expect EMSA to put off buying new ambulances and stretchers to help deal with their lack of funds until they figure what to do.

"I think what we're going to do, and we haven't had a board meeting, but we're just going to have to defer those capital purchases or we're going to have to borrow money," Lakin said.

In the meantime, as the agency remains mired in legal molasses, it'll keep flying to those 9-1-1 calls.

"The second highest survival rates for cardio-vascular problems, for heart attacks, is right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma," said Lakin.

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