Milwaukee Common Council approves private ambulance contracts after policy changes

NOW: Milwaukee Common Council approves private ambulance contracts after policy changes

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Two private ambulance companies will continue to serve Milwaukee after city leaders pushed for a change in their procedures.

The discussions began after a woman died in the cold.

On Tuesday morning, Milwaukee's Common Council approved the city's private ambulance service agreements with Bell Ambulance and Curtis-Universal, after sending their contracts back to the Public Safety Committee earlier this month.

"The reason why I held them was just to make sure they made the policy change that I wanted, and you know, they did that almost immediately," said Alderman Lamont Westmoreland.

Councilors unanimously passed a resolution on Feb. 6, urging the Milwaukee Fire Department and ambulance service providers to modify procedures to require responders to get out of their trucks and search for people in crisis.

That came after 49-year-old Jolene Waldref died in the cold on Milwaukee's northwest side last month after slipping and falling.

Curtis Ambulance responders didn't see her when initially called to the scene. She was found 22 minutes later.

On Feb. 15, Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski met with the ambulance companies to discuss updating protocol, including getting out of ambulances to look for patients.

Now, Bell Ambulance, Curtis Ambulance, and the Milwaukee Fire Department have all adopted that policy.

Ald. Westmoreland said Tuesday, he's happy that everyone could work together to make the change.

"I wanted to be sure - since they're the experts, the first responders, to make sure it was realistic, that it would not put any other callers in danger of receiving a delayed response, and it won't," Westmoreland explained.

Westmoreland also noted the city is still in the process of upgrading its 911 communications system.

He hopes when completed, it will help improve call transfers between departments.

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