KEESEVILLE The Keeseville and Peru Fire Districts have decided to look to CVPH Medical Center for 24-hour help with ambulance services. In the past, the fire departments contracted with the emergency medical technicians of CVPH to provide 12-hour coverage. That partnership will now change and CVPH will provide service for both districts around the clock. This partnership has been very effective. There are lives being saved, documented by their quick response and their abilities to have critical care technicians that have the latest equipment. We feel that outweighs the additional expense, said Keeseville Fire Commissioner chairman Butch Clodgo. The fire districts have been contracting with CVPH for about seven years. Originally the contract was for five days, but was increased to seven days several years ago. Greg Timmons, chairman of the Peru fire commissioners, said the change had to be made, due to increase requirements for personnel for training, changes in lifestyles and availability of personnel. For years, with the EMS service and with the fire district, its getting harder and harder to maintain people in our service, said Mr. Timmons. The new contract will cost the districts up to $75,000, up from $46,000 for the 12-hour contract. The hospital tries to recoup costs by billing insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, with the districts being charged if there is no coverage. The budget impact wont be seen until the 2009 budget year, due to billing practices. We've been talking about it for numerous years, but had to wait until the budgets would stand the increase in cost to make it happen, said Mr. Timmons. Mr. Clodgo agreed maintaining staff has been a struggle, since the KVFD only has two critical care technicians. Currently his district has about 15 basic EMTs, which requires more than 200 hours for certification. Both districts will continue to maintain their own ambulances for second calls. The volunteer ambulance squads will still be helping out, assisting with assessing and loading of patients or driving the ambulance. Even though were using this service for response reason, we still have numerous calls. We can have a second call in either district that has to be handled with volunteers available, said Mr. Timmons. The contract goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.