The Western Payne County Ambulance Trust Authority has tentatively approved a contract with Lifenet, a Texarkana-based ambulance service provider.

The board voted Wednesday during its regular meeting to approve a contract with the stipulation that Board Chairman Jerry Moeller could finalize a few details with Lifenet.

“Whether or not we sign this contract tonight or next week, it’s probably imminent,” Moeller said.

The program would start its membership program March 1. Lifenet would take over the ambulance services provided by the Stillwater Fire Department on May 1.

The authority will subsidize Lifenet between $1 million and $1,253,336 annually during the five-year contract. There is a provision in the contract that will refund the authority any money made by Lifenet that is above a 5-percent profit.

The monthly membership cost for customers has been estimated at no more than $5. The fee schedule for patients who are not members is still being decided. However, the average patient cost for an ambulance pickup who does not have a membership will likely be between $800 to $1,300.

The contract provides that the dispatch call center will be in Texarkana. Board Member Gary Clark said he did and still hopes that the dispatch center could become local at some point, but he said there are some advantages to this setup. Clark said that this arrangement is used by Lifenet in other communities, and it allows the company to use software to track call and response times.

“If we get to a point (in the future) where the funding is there, we can look at this again,” Clark said.

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