City increases ambulance fees, adds one part-time

City increases ambulance fees, adds one part-time

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

On Jan. 16, the Rockford City Council boosted ambulance fees’ from $200 to $300 for residents and from $350 to $525 for non-residents.

People can pay for services by using insurance, as well as Medicare or Medicaid.

The city’s finance director, Andres Sammul, noted the reason for the increase is because the city’s policy for ambulance service states that 50 percent of the cost must be recovered by user fees’.

Sammul noted that in the last two years, the figures have been between 45 and 50 percent. Therefore, the city must make an adjustment, Sammul said.

Also, the cost would help pay for a fifth, part-time ambulance that the fire department, which houses the city’s four ambulances, will be adding contingent upon budget approval at the end of March.

Although the budget still must be approved, Sammul said he is confident the council will approve it because all decisions are made carefully.

It will cost $120,000 to purchase the vehicle, $3,000 for lubricants and fuel and $240,000 to pay for two paramedics working overtime during the 12-hour period from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Bill Beaman, the fire department’s division chief of operations, said the fire department needs a new ambulance, “for the volume of calls, for one. The other one is we have four ambulances to cover four quadrants of the city. We’re looking at response times—to keep response times down.”

The ambulance would be stationed probably in the inner-city area, Beaman stated. The fire department may consider acquiring a sixth ambulance in 2002 by considering response times and demand for another ambulance.

“If the decision is made to operate the ambulance on a full-time basis in 2002, we’re going to have to add personnel to our department and operate it.”

Currently, the fire department relies on four to six ambulances from private companies. “We have an agreement with them to call them,” he noted. “If ambulances are tied up, we call the next one. Even adding one ambulance may never eliminate the problem.”

In The Rock River Times article in our Jan. 3 issue, questions arose over ambulance availability, response time, and dispatcher performance on a Dec 26 call to the 911 center. Contrary to some sources, authorities denied any delay in handling the call.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!