Loftus proposes ambulance fee

MILFORD – The Caroline County Board of Supervisors is considering a new policy under which some organizations would be charged a fee of $100 per hour to have an ambulance on standby at public events.

The policy was proposed by Fire-EMS Chief Jason Loftus. County Administrator Charles Culley recommended approval of the proposed policy, but the supervisors took no action when they considered it for the first time at their regular Sept. 25 meeting.

“It should be recognized that there is a cost to the county to provide these services,” Culley said in a briefing memo to the board. The service, currently provided at no charge, has “increased the department’s overtime expenditures when off-duty crews are utilized.” Other costs include gasoline, wear and tear on the ambulances, equipment and volunteer insurance.

In addition, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have available volunteer standby crews for events, according to Culley.

Standby EMS crews have been provided to county agencies, such as schools and the department of parks and recreation, at no charge, and exemptions could be provided for specific agencies if the supervisors wish, wrote Culley.

Loftus drafted a proposed policy with two types of service: dedicated EMS standby and non-dedicated standby. Dedicated means an assigned ambulance crew would remain at the event unless there is an extreme, catastrophic event in the county. Non-dedicated means an assigned ambulance crew would be at the event but would leave to respond to other EMS calls on an as-needed basis.

Only government and nonprofit organizations would be eligible for non-dedicated standby service. Other for-profit organizations would have to use the dedicated service. The proposed fee for dedicated EMS standby service would be $100 an hour with a minimum of two hours. No fee would be charged for non-dedicated service.

Supervisor Floyd W. Thomas said that schools should not be charged for the service, but for-profit organizations should pay. Supervisor Calvin B. Taylor concurred, noting, “The citizens there (at the school event) have already paid with their taxes.”

They asked what type of policy other counties have. Loftus said he had requested that information from other counties, but they have not responded.

“If a non-profit is charging (admission to an event), you should charge,” Thomas said.

Supervisor Jeff Sili asked Loftus if he could line up dedicated volunteers for events. Loftus answered that providing the service still incurs costs for the county – fuel and wear and tear on the vehicles. “It’s not accurate to say there is no cost involved with volunteers on a truck,” said Loftus.

The Virginia Sports Complex sponsors martial arts fights, and the company requests a standby ambulance for those events, Loftus noted.

“The sports complex pays a pretty good amount of taxes to Caroline County,” said Supervisor Wayne A. Acors.

Posted on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm