With independent paramedic service providers facing staffing shortages and increasing paramedic salaries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the village of Riverside has prepared to spend a lot more for the six paramedics they employ through Paramedic Services of Illinois (PSI).

On March 16, village trustees awarded PSI a new three-year deal, with two two-year renewal options, to provide two paramedics around the clock in Riverside. 

In the first year of the deal, which begins April 1, Riverside will pay $671,256 to PSI, a 39% increase over the $482,874 the village paid for final year of the contract that ends March 31.

For the second and third years of the new contract, PSI will increase its fee by 3% annually, meaning Riverside will pay $712,128 for paramedic services in 2025-26. If the village opts for one or two of the two-year extensions, the fee will increase by 4% annually.

PSI submitted the lower of two proposals Riverside received in response to a request for proposals the village announced last December. The fee proposed by the other firm, Metro Paramedic Services, was substantially higher than PSI’s, with the first year coming in at $845,893.

The contract calls for all PSI paramedics assigned to Riverside to also be certified firefighters in the state of Illinois. If the company assigns a paramedic to Riverside who is not a certified firefighter, the village will arrange for that paramedic to be assigned to the next available fire academy. PSI bears the cost of that training, said Riverside Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley.

According to Buckley, all of the PSI firefighter/paramedics assigned to Riverside carry fire gear and breathing apparatuses in their ambulance and do join firefighting crews in the event of a fire.

“Their primary duties are as paramedics,” Buckley said. “If there is a fire in Riverside, then yes, they will assist with that. But if there’s a patient, their primary concern is the patient.”

PSI has been Riverside’s paramedic service provider since 2018, when the company acquired Public Safety Services of Illinois (PSSI), which had been Riverside’s paramedic service provider since 1996.

Also on March 16, village trustees awarded a three-year contract to PSI to provide emergency medical billing services to the village. The terms of the billing contract run concurrently with the paramedic service contract.

During the three-year contract, the village will pay PSI a monthly rate of 3.5% of billing revenue collected, which is estimated at around $760 per month. PSI has been providing billing services to Riverside since 2017 and had been charging between 4% and 4.5% of collections, so the new contract reflects a reduction in that percentage.