Bishop City Council declines to cut Symons Ambulance out of dispatch service

symonsambulance.jpgIn spite of the fact that Symons Ambulance has failed to pay for dispatch services for some nine months and failed to respond to twenty requests to discuss the matter, the Bishop City Council gave the company more time to meet its obligations. Some council members point to valuable ambulance service while others say it’s a matter of a signed agreement and an expired contract.

Police Chief Chris Carter and City officials, frustrated by a complete lack of response by Symons, issued a press release saying Carter would ask the City Council to consider terminating dispatch services for the ambulance company. Symons Ambulance has grown into what one financial magazine called “one of the fastest growing companies in the nation” with revenues of $3.9 million this year and operations in southern California. So, why the non-payment of $13,000 and why the lack of response and cooperation? Judd Symons would only say the company has problems collecting insurance reimbursements for service.

An unconfirmed story did come out when the City Council met Monday. A story that Judd Symons claims he could not provide a requested profit and loss statement to document financial problems because a company Symons wanted to merge with was under investigation by the FBI for alleged fraud. That claim, too, remains unexplained. And, while Judd Symons would not speak with the Police Chief or City Administrator, he did talk privately to council members.

Council woman Laura Smith said she doesn’t think Symons has to prove a financial problem. She said, “We dispatched for him for years with no charge.” Smith said she did not believe the City has to consider the actual financial status of Symons in regard to the lack of payment to Bishop. She agreed some of Symons’ behavior is “bad business”, but said the Council has to weigh the importance of a “critical service to the people.”

Without dispatch service from the Police Department, ambulance calls would go directly to Symons Ambulance and police or fire would respond at Symons’ request, according to officials.

Councilman Dave Stottlemyre is looking at the Inyo County ambulance contract expiring in June when the service will go out to bid. He hopes the Symons problem will be resolved and wants to “keep working with them.” After visiting with Judd Symons, he said it’s hard on small businesses with all of the regulations. Is he aware that Symons has grown into a major company? Stottlemyre said he is but he thinks in an area like Bishop they are losing money. He said it’s not costing the City anything to provide free dispatch service.

Other officials disagree and point to equipment, personnel and liability. The lack of a contract leaves the City liable for dispatched cases. Stottlemyre said constituents are benefiting from the dispatch services.

Councilman Keith Glidewell said he has spoken to Symons who offered no reason for not paying the City. He said he’s researching the issue and is not ready to take a position. Glidewell is concerned that terminating dispatch services might impact the ambulance services.

Mayor Pro Tem Pat Gardner said, “Symons is in breach of their contract and they need to pay. Their contract says what to do to make modifications.” She said Symons did not respond to any communications in over a year. Said Gardner, “If they can’t make it work, they need to talk to us. Don’t just default and do nothing.” Of the Council’s lack of action on the issue, Gardner said it sets a horrible precedence. She said it’s not a personal matter and that Symons does a “wonderful job.” Gardner said the City has an obligation for public safety but also a fiscal responsibility on contracts.

Before the Council meeting, Judd Symons dropped off a check at the Police Department for a reported $3200 on the $13,000 owed and told an officer about the alleged merger and fraud investigation. More on this issue is expected at the January 13th Council meeting.

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Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
8 years ago

I would prefer to see the entire EMS program provided by the county rather than a for profit business.

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

That is a viable option, I’m sure Symons would prefer the county pick up the tab for all the non paying illegal aliens. Which is probably one of the reason the area isn’t as profitable, and there is no current contract. I think it’s more then fitting that the people… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I don’t do thumbs, but making racist assumptions does not help any situation. If our country had a better health care system, there may not be so many people going to the emergency room as their primary care provider. Medi-Cal may pay for ambulances. I don’t know. I am willing… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Really!

racist assumptions?

that’s an idiot’s assumption

We’re doomed

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Chill out. Life’s not so ugly as you may think.
Benett

John Barton
John Barton
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Mono County has an ambulance/paramedic crew operating effectively throughout the county so it would be interesting to see how that has worked for them financially. The same plan may work for Inyo.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

Good point. Don’t know how much it’s costing Mono. They do have disagreements from time to time between County and paramedics, but it’s a working
system in all the communities.
BK

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

@ Mark Statistics show us that 4 out 5 of those without medical insurance in the US are legal citizens. So our own citizens put far more stress on the system than the undocumented immigrant population does. But regardless, we (the insured) will always be footing the bills for the… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

Inability to pay medical bills is the single leading cause of personal bankruptcy, and fully 80% of those who declare bankruptcy due to the inability to pay medical bills have health insurance. Anyone who has ever had an emergency that requried an ambulance ride knows how the costs add up.… Read more »

sugarmagnolia
sugarmagnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

well then, as of Jan 1., almost all people will have health care…Symons should be a happy camper then! And in theory, our insurance rates should decrease. The insured will no longer be paying for the uninsured, hospitals will be paid for all their services…but I’m not going to hold… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

. “Stottlemyre said constituents are benefiting from the dispatch services.” “Stottlemyre said he is but he thinks in an area like Bishop they are losing money. He said it’s not costing the City anything to provide free dispatch service.” “Symons does a “wonderful job.” Gardner said the City has an… Read more »

One
One
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Do you live in Bishop? Pay taxes? Just Curious, I cannot imagine people paying taxes for a service that ultimately puts money in a companies pockets is worth while to support. Symons does a great job but why make the richer “richer”?

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  One

In a rural area such as the Eastern Sierra we do not necessarily have all the options cities do in other areas. It seems to me the current dispatch scenerio is working well for everyone involved. As I continue to preach it’s not the city’s job to make money, it… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Depends. The police or fire department may call an ambulance and you might not need or want it. You might or might not be charged for the call, even if you refuse the ambulance ride. There is also a strong motivation to overcharge if the customer has health insurance or… Read more »

Thankful
Thankful
8 years ago

Benett, I for one am very thankful that you let citizens freely express their opinions. I also appreciate what others have to say even if I don’t agree with all of them.. It is free speech. I know there has to be limitations at times… lord knows I have had… Read more »

Armchair Pundit
Armchair Pundit
8 years ago

This is a weird story. I’m wondering about the merger and FBI fraud investigation with the other company. So sensational in of itself. Why start telling the police now? Unless it’s time to start saving your own skin? I’m with the Mayor. It sets a bad precedence. Besides, integrity is… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

Integrity is rare these days, and down right hard to find within TOML

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

The FBI has current investigations against a number of ambulance and home health care services for Medicare fraud. It is a national problem.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

Benett, why do you print such venomous diatribe? What positive value do you see in it other than getting more click throughs and page hits by those looking for a place to spew their venom?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Do you have a specific comment that you disagree with? Or do you wish to counter what you consider venomous?
BK

One
One
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Rebuttal?

Frank
Frank
8 years ago

This is good news. DT, you’re a very disrespectful person. I’m quite sure owning an ambulance service is nothing like the ability to print money. Your proof is a mansion in Ridgecrest, really? Last time I looked any property in Ridgecrest is not exactly proof of wealth. With fuel prices… Read more »

Shine
Shine
8 years ago
Reply to  Frank

Not charging in future might be smart. Forgiving breach of current contract and debt stupid,

Russ Monroe
Russ Monroe
8 years ago
Reply to  Frank

I see no reason to believe that DT is a person, Frank.
Can you prove that it (DT) is anything other than an arrogant, hostile, fictional character?

Pedro
Pedro
8 years ago
Reply to  Russ Monroe

No different than an arrogant, hostile, supposedly non fictional Russ Monroe. I take that back, DT is a more likable imaginary friend than you. Don’t sweat it, we all have self esteem issues, you’re not alone. Group Hug?

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Frank

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/Sep/15/health-symons-ambulance-makes-inc-list-for-fast/ Doesn’t seem like they are hurting for money, but they refuse to honor their contract with Bishop and owe them a good deal of money. I don’t care what people say here about Symons, he is in breach of his contract, owes the public money and refuses to talk… Read more »

How?
How?
8 years ago

Where is the money going?

People at McDonalds make more than the EMTs at Symons. FACT.

Pedro
Pedro
8 years ago
Reply to  How?

Did you check out their Baja 1000 rig? Badass! No need to pay employees or debts if you look that cool.

What???
What???
8 years ago

“Old Man Symons”? Not only are you insulting, DT, but you have no idea about whom you are speaking. Judd Symons, far from being old, has lived here all his life. Graduated BUHS in the 80s. This isn’t some guy from Ridgecrest, or Lancaster, or wherever you are pontificating from… Read more »

Really????
Really????
8 years ago
Reply to  What???

DT, Like printing money? Again, your lack of knowledge with respect to the operation of EMS is glaring. The last thing this community needs is a large conglomerate ambulance service in this town. Judd Symons has spent his life servicing this community. He does so 24/7, always on duty, radio… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Really????

The man you are defending so ardently is planning to merge with another ambulance firm, maybe even a big nationwide comglomerate and oh by the way chooses a partner that is under Federal investigation. Good judgement, eh? Symons apparently only cares about his money. Do you feel like a chump… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

They aren’t the only ambulance service Bishop can contract with. Ambulance services are almost like printing money. $5000 for a short ride across Ridgecrest for a little girl with minor injuries. For giggles try Google Mapping the corner of West Ridgecrest Bl. and Mahan Street in Ridgecrest. The business on… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

“He said it’s not costing the City anything to provide free dispatch service.” It’s actually a benifit to the community that they are dispatched by Bishop P.D. And it’s stated above it doesn’t cost the city anything. Yet the P.D. wants paid for it? Perhaps Symons is silently saying “pound… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

The only question we have heard is – if Symons Ambulance doesn’t like the payments, why did they sign an agreement?
BK

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

People default on signed agreements all the time.

My question is why does the city charge for something that doesn’t cost them anything and actually provides the local area with better dispatch/communications then if Symons dispatched themselves.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Defaulting on a signed agreement usually lands you in a courtroom defending yourself in a civil suit. Would you walk away from that kind of money owed to you in a signed contract just because the guy stiffing you comes from your town and is a “nice guy”. You would… Read more »