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Should EMS Squads Charge for their Service?

Question of the day

Chief Bob Resetar of the Lanoka Harbor EMS is distraught over the amount of funding the township provides to the EMS squads.

The township donates $35,000 but of that, $5,000 goes directly to the county dispatch.

Resetar does not see how the squad can continue to operate under the current conditions.

The annual budget for LHEMS is $65,000

If the township were ever to increase their donation, they would have to cut back other areas.

Resetar mentioned that it is possible that they may have to start charging down the road otherwise the township would have to resort to downsizing or paid services.

If the squad was to charge, the system would be similar to Revenue Rescue, seeking primarily funds from insurance companies.

One call that results in a trip to the hospital is approximately $800, Resetar said.

If the township resorted to a paid service, there would most likely only be one truck and many calls would go unanswered, Resetar said. A paid service would not cover the football games unless they received additional compensation.

What should be done? Should the EMS squad begin to charge for their services?

Tim April 25, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Barnegat went to paid service during daytime hours and its never been better. Paid service arrives on scene WAY faster than volunteers. Its only volunteers during night time hours there. Why not due the same thing here.
bob April 25, 2011 at 01:18 PM
Paid service is definitely the way to go.All the seniors moving into toll brothers will bankrupt the town, by over using services. Let everyone pay for transportation and the town might actually make money.
Forked Tongue April 25, 2011 at 03:15 PM
I don't understand why the fire and ambulance squads we have 5 independent organizations. Wouldn't it make sense to have 1 EMS organization?
Matt April 25, 2011 at 04:08 PM
Speaking as someone who works for a paid service, i can without a doubt say it would be detrimental to public health and safety to have a privately owned paid service provide ems coverage to the township. Currently in Barnegat there is 1 ems truck to provide coverage from 0600-1800 weekdays. Without fail, every week backup crews are called to answer 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and even 5th calls in Barnegat from whiting and sometimes as far as Lakewood!! Do the residents of Lacey really want to wait 20-30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. Paid services are ok in towns with low call volume, and in Barnegat when the crews are not overburdened, the ambulance does arrive quickly, but as any emergency personnel know, Lacey rarely has only 1 call at a time. What needs to be done is the township needs to realize is how much money they would save in the long run by increasing funding to the squads in town, and stop worrying about how green they can keep their grass in the parks. Common sense people!!
resident April 25, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Also as someone who works for a paid service, I can tell you that the level of respect and treatment that you will get from volunteers, is drastically different from a private organization. People who work for private organizations are normally underpaid, work long hours and a copious amount of overtime, and are not thrilled with their company in general. In which case, the person does not want to be at work and deal with any of this, but has to in order to pay the bills. In fact in a recent study it was considered one of the top 10 underpaid jobs in the US. Yes, there are times when volunteers may struggle to get out a truck, but as Matt stated, there is normally one truck stationed in a town for 911 emergencies. If that truck is on a job, you would see trucks responding from other towns and in some cases a different county, I know because I have done this. If there is no truck from that company available, they will outsource to another private agency who will go through the same routine. This is NOT what you want. If we had to resort to paid anything, I would recommend that you consider allowing the volunteers to bill. This would not be to pay anyone, it would merely be for self sustainability.
resident April 25, 2011 at 05:52 PM
The theory behind this is to limit response times. It takes Lanoka Harbor FD longer to respond to Bamber than it takes for Bamber FD to respond to Bamber. With this said, many times when the fire departments get a job, two of the fire departments are paged. For example, Forked River FD with Lanoka FD, vice versa, and Forked River FD and Bamber FD. The EMS organizations are actively involved with one another, and if one is shorthanded crew members we can mix between squads. All of the emergency services are involved with each other more than the public is aware of. Unfortunately, since there is no central location, we cannot combine everything simply because of room. This could be possible to eventually do, but for the time being, and the economy we are in, we are stuck in the state we are currently in.
Matt April 26, 2011 at 01:16 AM
@bob i think your viewpoint might be a little off. The town won't go bankrupt from running ems calls in the developments- the squads will. Lacey Township offers no financial aid regarding repairs or scheduled maintenance to any of the vehicles belonging to the first aid squads. If an ambulance breaks down, the squad is on the hook for the repair bills. Th Township does pay for fuel for the ambulances, but I challenge someone to convince anyone that the cost of a couple extra gallons of diesel will bankrupt a town, even with soaring prices at the pumps. The only people who stand to make money by Lacey Township transitioning to a private paid service, is said service. The township will see not a cent of any income from billed patients, only the private service. It's a losing situation for all; the Township, the squads, and the residents.
Concerned Responder April 26, 2011 at 02:53 AM
To all of you resident EMS experts, First of all, it is completely pointless to even have a conversation about going to a paid service. There are no upsides to paid companies. What Resetar is talking about it moving to a fee-for-service model. As @matt and @resident can attest, paid service is just not what you think it is. Guaranteed, your volunteers care more about this township and your loved ones then paid out of town service. Merging organizations wouldn't even save money, just the occasional in town mutual aid additional requests. Fact- when LHEMS and said paid company who covers Spring Oaks Assisted Living are dispatched simultaneously, LHEMS almost always is on scene first or at the same time. Their staff also will call 911 for LHEMS for serious calls before contacting their paid service because they are there faster. Bottom line, everyone looks to cut corners until it is their family member who needs help. Do not continue to ignore and write off your volunteers!
Long Time Volunteer April 26, 2011 at 04:16 AM
I agree with most of these comments my town just cut $10,000.00 from our squads budget and those cutting the budget only see that there saving money. Our Squad runs with the bare minimum a sub par ambulance and false promises from the majority of the politicians. I say we need to leave the politics out of the volunteers that have been there for the residents for nearly 50 years in our town, No we don't answer 100% of our calls but that is what the mutual aid system is in place for and so far it it working. All politicians need to work with the volunteers and not against them, this country was made as strong as it is with the help of volunteers and a few dollars is not worth someones life.
EMS Concerned April 26, 2011 at 05:28 AM
I think this is a scare tactic. Dont believe that paid is better. Paid will not care for your towns people like voulunteers will.
Paid Ambulance Service April 26, 2011 at 07:22 PM
Paid Service! That's a great idea!!! That way each person who needs emergency medical attention in Lacey Township can get charged $2500 plus for a BLS (basic life support) ride to the hospital! We can even double that for ALS (advanced life support...eg life threatening) calls! Brilliant! How much do they pay now...wait...nothing? OH...a minor portion (VERY minor) of their property taxes helps to support the volunteer agencies in Lacey? Wait, who comes up with the balance of their annual budgets? The squads do through fundraising? Perhaps the right thing to do is to help ourselves as a community is to help them... It is disturbing that the township is seemingly concerned more with the appearance of its numerous parks than the well being of the community. I suppose the township comittee would argue that point so as to make the township look more appealing on the surface, but isn't that somewhat irresponsible? I suppose that is the point behind this debate at it's core... The concept of paid services for Lacey is a mistake. Simple. We need to support our volunteer organizations. They are our community...at its best!
Brian April 26, 2011 at 09:21 PM
if i do the math right, just say there are 1000 calls this year, that less than 3 calls per day, which there is almost more than that in Lanoka Harbor, let alone Lacey's which is much higher. 1000 calls x $800 ea. call = $800,000 VS. asking for an extra $30,000 Not sure how anyone thinks that saves money. Even if you yourself does not need the ambulance you know someone who will get billed for it; your mother, grandmother child playing sports. So it will cause almost all of us to know someone who will suffer from going paid. That doesnt even have anything to do with response time or how much our towns volunteers care for us.

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