Ambulance Transport Proposal

 

Currently the Board of Trustees are discussing the change in ambulance service with the Hyalite Rural Fire District, directly affecting ambulance availability to HRFD residents.

In an answer to the shortage of service, the HRFD board is discussing adding ambulance transport services to their currently offered medical services.

Please read through the FAQ below to obtain more information regarding the subject.

We look forward to seeing you on the 6th and to answer any questions you may have on this important issue to the HRFD community

1. Under what authority is the fire district able to perform ambulance transport in its jurisdiction? MCA 7-33-2105 specifically provides authorization for a fire district to provide EMS services to the residents of the district. No other entity has the authority to perform EMS services in the Hyalite Fire District.

2. Will the district’s taxes increase as a result of the fire department providing ambulance transport services? No. Providing these services will not result in any increase in property taxes. In fact, district residents who use this service will likely be charged a substantially lower rate for transport than the current private ambulance company charges. Please remember, the Board of Trustees can only increase taxes AFTER placing an issue before district residents for a vote. The Board cannot by itself raise taxes.

3. Will ambulance transport burden the fire department’s volunteers? Our volunteers currently respond to all medical calls in our district and all our fire fighters are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). Providing this level of training for our volunteers means that for many years our residents experiencing medical problems have been served by very qualified personnel.

Our volunteers are very excited about the prospect of the additional experience and training opportunities that will be available to them by offering this service. We believe this will serve as an attractive recruitment opportunity for those interested in a career in emergency services.

4. Will additional training cost more or be a burden to staff? Our department has had a well-established and rigorous “hands on” training program in place for many years. The marginal costs, both in staff time and supplies, for additional training is quite low.

5. Won’t it cost a lot of money to purchase an ambulance? The Hyalite Fire District currently owns an ambulance that was purchased as a retired unit from the Big Sky Fire Department. In line with the Department’s Capital Replacement Plan, it is due for replacement FY21. Hence, there will be no additional costs outside of our budgeted capital replacement for an ambulance.

6. Since you own an ambulance, do you transport any patients at the moment? Yes. We transport patients when the private ambulance service is not available. This condition has become more acute in the last year as the private ambulance company is stretched beyond its current staffing capabilities. We feet that it is critically important we ensure reliable and consistent ambulance transport services to our residents without being reliant on a third-party, private ambulance service.

7. Are you buying any new equipment (ambulance) outside of the capital replacement schedule? No. Our current ambulance is scheduled for replacement in FY21. The current ambulance will be maintained in our fleet as a piece of reserve equipment.

8. Will district residents be surprised or disturbed to receive a bill for ambulance transport services from the Hyalite Fire District when they have never received a bill from the district in the past? This is certainly possible, but could easily be mitigated with a letter of explanation describing our billing system. We believe once residents are educated with regard to the billing for ambulance services, especially that they are paying far less than they would have with the private ambulance company, their concerns will be effectively addressed and satisfied.

9. Will the district have a back-up ambulance transport in the event where there are multiple and simultaneous medical calls requiring ambulance transport? Yes. The private ambulance service is still providing ambulance transport services in Gallatin County, subject to their staffing constraints. Central Valley Fire District provides ambulance transport services and will continue to be a mutual aid resource to the Hyalite Fire District for ambulance transport services.

10. Would Hyalite Fire transport patients from all EMS calls within the district boundaries? Not at this time. The current plan would be for the Hyalite Fire Department to be the primary transport agency for EMS calls that are designated by the 911 Center to be of low to moderate severity for the patient.

11. What happens if, after a year, the Hyalite Fire District ambulance transport concept is not functioning as anticipated? If this were to happen, we could simply go back to the way things operate today. This would mean that the private ambulance service would be dispatched to all of our EMS calls and we would transport with our ambulance when they did not have a unit available.

12. If the Hyalite Fire District bills for ambulance services, will a patient be charged if they don’t accept ambulance transport? No. Transport fees are only assessed when a patient is actually transported in the ambulance to the hospital.

13. Is it legally permissible for a fire district to charge fees for ambulance transport? Yes.  There are many fire districts in the state of Montana that provide ambulance transport services and bill for those services.  In fact, there are three in Gallatin County alone that assess fees for ambulance transport.

14. Does the Hyalite Fire District have the correct type and/or amount of liability insurance to perform ambulance transport? Yes.  As we already provide ambulance transport services on a “as needed” basis, our insurance provider has assured us that we have the appropriate coverage for such services.

15. What level of EMS services will the Hyalite Fire District provide? ALS or BLS? The Hyalite Fire District will continue to provide BLS emergency medical services with licensed Emergency Medical Technicians as we have for years.  The only change in operations will be to perform the transport component of our services on a more routine basis.

 

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