The paramedic company that sued members of a North Riverside political party for libel during a heated election campaign back in February will remain the village’s paramedic service provider for at least the next five years.

On Dec. 16, North Riverside trustees voted 5 to 1 to extend the village’s contract with Paramedic Services of Illinois Inc. (PSI) through July 31, 2019. The lone vote against the contract came from Trustee H. Bob Demopoulos, who was one of the people PSI sued in February.

Asked why he voted against the contract, Demopoulos said the village should have solicited bids for paramedic services. In the past, Demopoulos has called for the elimination of contract paramedics in favor of North Riverside’s fire department being staffed by full-time, in-house firefighter/paramedics.

“I feel that we should have shopped around a little bit and checked out what was out there,” Demopoulos said. “It was not even negotiated.”

PSI Inc. has provided paramedic services to the village of North Riverside since 1985. In February, the company sued Demopoulos and then-Trustee Rocco DeSantis, along with other members of the Transparency and Accountability in Politics Party, who opposed members of the VIP Party.

On the TAP website and on Demopoulos’ own website appeared statements that called into question PSI’s ability to perform adequate paramedic services for the village. The statements, which later were removed from the websites, called PSI “sub-par” and their paramedics “bottom of the totem pole.”

The company filed suit on Feb. 26 in Cook County Circuit Court, seeking more than $50,000 in damages. The lawsuit still has not been resolved, and earlier this month PSI Inc. filed an amended complaint against the defendants. Phone messages left by the Landmark for the attorneys representing both sides in the suit have gone unanswered.

Village President Hubert Hermanek Jr. read a prepared statement, applauding the new deal and praising PSI Inc. for its past service to the village.

“For the next five years we will know to the dollar how much their fine paramedic services will cost our village and its residents. Hermanek said. Larry Robbins, the vice president of operations at PSI Inc. was in attendance at the Dec. 16 board meeting and also hailed the new agreement. 

“We’re very proud and honored to continue our service here,” Robbins said. “We’ve had a wonderful partnership and relationship since 1985 and we look forward to a continued long-lasting relationship.”

PSI Inc. is slated to get fee increases of 2.5 percent each year of the contract, beginning Aug. 1, 2014, when the village will pay the company $467,368 in 12 equal payments. By the end of the deal, North Riverside will be paying PSI Inc. $518,401 annually.

In return for the payment, PSI Inc. will continue to provide two paramedic/firefighters (six in all) to the village’s fire department at all times. In addition, those paramedics will conduct ongoing blood pressure screenings for residents and employees of “all industrial establishments and businesses located in the village.”

PSI Inc. is responsible for paying the paramedics’ salaries and benefits.