Raytown considers transferring EMS from city to fire department

RAYTOWN, Mo.- A big change could be on the way for emergency medical services in Raytown, Missouri, as city leaders consider transferring EMS to the Raytown Fire Protection District.

The EMS department has been operating under the city since 1976 and currently has a $1.5 million budget. Money has been top of mind for Raytown ever since millions were cut from the police department's budget last year. Three tax measures aimed to address the revenue problem failed at the polls in August. 

However, a spokeswoman for the city said finances are not the only factor that prompted discussions of a transfer. 

"The planned agreement will create an opportunity for increased services and decrease response times through the availability of additional ambulances, personnel and multiple deployment locations," a joint press release from the City of Raytown and the Raytown Fire Protection District says. 

Both the city and the fire department declined interview requests on Monday, but a press conference is planned for 2 p.m. on Tuesday to address the potential change. 

The Raytown Board of Aldermen will discuss the license transfer at its meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. If both the aldermen and the Raytown Fire Protection District Board of Directors approve the measure, the change would go into effect on November 17, 2018. 

According to a memo sent to staff, current EMS employees would be given hiring preference by the fire department if the transfer goes through. The document also lays out potential severance packages for employees. 

A transfer of EMS to the fire department has been discussed several times in the past 20 years, but plans never came to fruition. 

41 Action News last investigated concerns about Raytown's EMS in May of 2016. We learned staffing issues often led to just one ambulance instead of two covering the city. 

"They can't recruit anyone. They can't maintain staff. So their turnover rate has been fairly significant over the past several years," IAFF Local 1730 President Taylor Seedorff said at the time. His union represents EMS employees. 

Data obtained by 41 Action News show Raytown was increasingly relying on the Kansas City Fire Department for backup. For example, in 2015 KCFD responded to Raytown 337 times, while records show Raytown didn't respond to Kansas City even once. 

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