Paid EMS transport may soon be reality

Reimbursement fees for taking village of Fredonia ambulances may soon be a reality now that a committee is looking into its potential.

Village Trustee Joseph Cerrie announced Monday that he, Trustee Janel Subjack and liaisons for the fire department and the volunteer fire department will begin meeting to look into paid rescue. The first committee meeting is tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the fire hall.

“What I’d like to do is ask for the blessing of the village board to move forward with all the background information we need to do and research the revenue and expense sides and the number of calls,” Cerrie said. “I think our biggest concern is the no-shows (when Alstar Ambulance doesn’t show up at an incident and we have to transport somebody) and generating some revenue to cover our expenses.”

Kurt Maytum of the volunteer fire department said the committee will soon pay a visit to the village of Medina, which has a similar fire department setup to Fredonia.

“They’ve gotten into the transporting business, so we’re going to try and find out from them the upsides and downsides, and hopefully we’ll avoid some pitfalls that they’ve already been through,” he added.

Mayor Stephen Keefe announced he recently talked to the Medina mayor about this topic.

“Based on the population of the nursing home (and assisted-living centers) and SUNY Fredonia, he said we should certainly go into a transport system and that it’s in our best interests,” Keefe said. “One recommendation he did make was we should use appropriate ambulance personnel, as far as hiring new people. Rather than hire firemen at a much higher rate, we should look at emergency personnel that meet the standards we’re looking for.”

Keefe added with a paid system, expenses associated with transport will be offset.

“The idea of revenues coming in through a transport operation can be substantial and it could offset the expense of our fire department,” he said. “Right now, we make transports to the hospital, and yet we don’t charge. Alstar transports and they do charge, but sometimes they’re out of service. If we just picked up where they’re out of service and transport it and we’re able to charge back to the insurance carriers, we would make revenues. And if we’re clever in how we man the coverage, we can increase our revenues.”

The city of Dunkirk currently charges for emergency transport. Dunkirk Fire Chief Keith Ahlstrom recently reported the average reimbursement rate for insured individuals taking ambulances in 2013 was $210.

Comments on this article may be sent to gfox@observertoday.com