In an effort to maintain its current level of service, the Folsom Fire Department proposes to charge a fee when it responds to calls for rescue and emergency medical aid.
The proposal, which will go before the City Council tonight, calls for a $225 fee to cover "first-responder" services. Chief Ronald Phillips said the fee would be charged regardless of whether the ill or injured person was transported to the hospital.
In 2011, the department responded to 3,247 rescue or emergency medical service calls, accounting for about 70 percent of the department's total calls for service, Phillips said. Based on the current workload and call level, he said, the first-responder fee would generate approximately $250,000 per year in additional revenue, which would help the department maintain its current level of service.
The fee would apply to responses within the city as well as to the department's responses to calls in other jurisdictions.
The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District currently charges a first-responder fee of $275.58, according to a staff report. Phillips said that fee is paid by Folsom patients if Sacramento Metro Fire responds to a call within the city.
The Sacramento Fire Department and the El Dorado County Ambulance Joint Powers Authority charge $96 and $317, respectively, if an individual is treated at the scene and is not transported to a hospital.
Phillips said Folsom's proposed $225 is a base fee. The ambulance bill for patients transported to a hospital would vary depending on the medications and level of care required before reaching the hospital.
The fee typically would be covered by a patient's insurance.
"It's really about maintaining the quality of life," Phillips said of the fee. "This is the highest level of medical care you find pre-hospital."
Without the fee, he said, the city likely would have to look at alternatives, which could include replacing paramedics, who provide advanced life support services, with emergency medical technicians.
If supported by the council tonight, the fee would be considered for adoption June 12 and become effective July 12.
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