The Medford firefighters union is in the early stages of creating a proposal to have a city owned and operated ambulance service, union officials said Thursday.
During the City Council's annual review of the fire department's budget, union president Bill O'Brien told city officials that a union committee had been formed to come up with a plan for a fire department-operated ambulance. They hope to bring a proposal to the city next year, O'Brien said.
The city is under contract with private company Armstrong Ambulance Service through 2016, but that wouldn't necessarily preclude the city from also operating its own ambulance, union officials said.
The fire department would only operate one or two ambulances -- Not a big enough operation the whole city -- but it could be a source of significant revenue, O'Brien said.
"In order for it to work, the city must have participating ambulance accompany," O'Brien said. "We wouldn’t take the whole load."
He pointed to the success of Melrose, which began to operate one ambulance of its own last year. It brought in $500,000 in revenue in the first six months, O'Brien said.
City Councilor Paul Camuso said he supported looking into the possibility. The revenue of ambulance providers makes off transporting patients to hospitals is a "hidden secret," he said.
"Everyone says Armstrong is so good to us," Camuso said. "They may be good, they’re not doing because they’re good people, they’re doing it because they’re making money hand over fist.”
Councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn said she also supported the idea.
“I think we have firefighters who want to do it," she said.