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The Lackawanna City Council looked to improve response times for emergency and non-emergency medical service Monday night by unanimously approving a measure to seek bids from alternative ambulance services.

The city fire chief expressed dissatisfaction with its current provider, Rural/Metro.

“We want to make sure the ambulance arrives within a certain time frame,” said Lackawanna Fire Chief Ralph Galante. “Right now we don’t have that with Rural/Metro. There are instances now where we have a 20- to 25-minute waiting period before the ambulance arrives.”

The new response time criteria would levy penalties if the ambulance does not answer the call within a certain time frame: 10 minutes for emergency calls; 17 minutes for non-emergency, Galante told the Lackawanna Council during a work session that was open to the public. “The time period starts when we receive the call,” he said.

National standards are 8 minutes for emergency, and 15 minutes for non-emergency calls.

Councilman Joseph Jerge said American Medical Response, a Colorado-based company, approached the city. It is the same company trying to win Buffalo’s exclusive emergency service contract in an attempt to gain a presence in upstate New York.

“Right now we have a simple agreement with Rural/ Metro,” said Galante.

In other action, the Council approved:

• A funding request for the emergency demolition of two houses at 114 and 116 Center St. that were gutted by a late-morning fire March 4. Officials estimate the demolition cost to be $20,000 each.

• A $14,000 budget transfer to purchase 55 new pistols, lights and holsters for the city Police Department.

email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com