Is TJ Nelson Paul’s go to BS Artist?

There are a lot of FACTUAL arguments for and against using a public ambulance service. So let’s try to stick to those. Councilor Starr did;

And because in 2019 the city will begin a practice of allowing paramedics on the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to perform advanced life support at emergency scenes, Starr said now is that time.

“All fire fighters are EMTs, and we have a large number of paramedics that we pay to train,” he said earlier this month. “I’d like to see them take on that role because I see ambulance service as a utility, and it shouldn’t be a for-profit business.”

But that didn’t stop Mayor TenHaken’s Deputy COS, TJ Nelson, from spinning the issue;

“This is really a philosophical discussion,” said T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office. “But it’s unrealistic to think the city could prop up a city-run ambulance in two years and that’s not something we’d even propose.”

Philosophical? Has Nelson been reading Plato? It is an easy discussion to have based on research that is already out there. This isn’t a conservative vs. liberal philosophies. This is an ambulance service. I do agree you would NOT be able to start one in two years, but a 4-5 year time frame would not be unreasonable.

But this statement is just flat out false;

But Nelson predicts that study would show an astronomical financial burden on Sioux Falls and its taxpayers should future city leaders want to do away with the for-profit model historically used here.

“That would be a huge lift, dozens of new FTEs and millions of dollars in capital just to lift that up. And we’re getting it all now for no cost,” he said referring to the staffing increases a change would require, the construction elements that would come with equipping fire halls with additional space to house ambulances and the liability that comes with providing ambulance service.

NO cost? Was that some kind of sick joke? Right now the SFFD is responding to emergency calls, in fact over 90% of fire calls are medical emergencies or similar events. They are ususally the first ones there before the ambulance. Our reimbursement for responding to these calls and essentially subsidizing Paramedics Plus is ZERO! With a Public Ambulance service we could contract a 3rd party to collect payments and work with insurance companies and medicare for a commission, we would receive the remainder. In other words we would be able to collect payments for service. Right now PP pays the city NOTHING for responding to these events. While initially the capital costs would be high, once the system is in place we would actually be taking in revenue from it. Just because it is PUBLIC doesn’t mean we cannot receive payments for the service.

As for having a consultant looking at options, Cameraman Bruce adds;

The use of J Fitch and Associates as our future ambulance consultant should be held in scorn. This is the operation caught in the middle of the federal probe of questionable practices. Paramedics Plus, it’s personnel and J. Fitch are partners in many operations and “clubs”. Any help from them would continue the wrongs we are experiencing.

It is time to explore a Public Ambulance service, but let’s do it in a HONEST and Transparent way.




#1 JKC on 09.20.18 at 11:56 am

Philosophical in that he wants someone to profit, a profiter who is an unnecessary middleman. Some call this capitalism, whiles others see it as a shackdown. While most just want to get to the hospital safely and quickly…

#2 MK on 09.20.18 at 12:57 pm

It didn’t take the fire chief long to get on the PP bandwagon. “PP is great”, “we’re not ready”.

Maybe the health director threatened him.

And still no discussion about who would provide better care or the turnover rates at PP.

I’ll be driving myself to the hospital until the current system is changed.

#3 l3wis on 09.20.18 at 1:31 pm

I tell people if you are not bleeding to death, call Lyft, it’s faster.

#4 The Guy from Guernsey on 09.21.18 at 10:16 am

Well, if T.J. already has all of the answers (“… that study would show an astronomical financial burden on Sioux Falls and its taxpayers …”), why waste the money and time to hire a consultant ?
The age-old approach “because that is what we have always done …” should ring hollow to many – but especially to this adminstration!

#5 l3wis on 09.21.18 at 10:25 am

Just like Spellerberg pool they will hire a consultant to tell them what they want to hear instead of what is in the best interest of the public. If we can spend $180 million on an events center, we can spend the money on a public ambulance service (that will start collecting reimbursements on day one). The payments for service could easily cover the debt service on a bond to buy ambulances and equip the fire stations. They could easily put lean twos on all the fire stations to house the ambulances.

#6 l3wis on 09.21.18 at 10:25 am

And unlike a private provider, the city has the power like the county to put liens on people who can’t pay.