It’s an unfortunate fact of life that accidents and illness happen every day in cities and towns across the nation. To help keep residents safe and alive, municipalities offer ambulance and emergency medical services to quickly treat patients and deliver them to hospitals and other medical facilities. These services, of course, cost money which ultimately comes from the taxpayers. As a result, many communities provide emergency medical service (EMS), often through their fire department, while others believe privatization and outsourcing EMS to third party ambulance services is the way to go to keep expenses down and control budgets.
According to MedStar owners Nicholas Melehov and Gregory Melehov, privatization of ambulance services for many municipalities can be a hot button for debate. By providing EMS services through their fire departments, many communities gain a revenue stream that can often add much needed money to their coffers. However, that comes at an expense – providing EMS and ambulance service as part of their general fire-rescue operations requires lots of manpower, equipment, maintenance, fuel, billing services and insurance, to name some of the expenses involved. If the municipality is not seeing positive revenue from its public service – or at least breaking even — that certainly can be a bone of contention with taxpayers.
Privatization, on the other hand, say Nick Melehov and Greg Melehov, offers some advantages to communities that can be very attractive. For example, municipalities don’t have to worry about any of the infrastructure or behind-the-scenes workings associated with creating and maintaining an EMS system. Here at MedStar, for example, we have a medical director, HR, benefits, QA/QI, and ongoing training of our personnel.
Cities and towns that utilize privatized ambulance services no longer have the volatile overhead that can come with public services, such as increasing salaries, employee benefits, raising fuel costs, training, and other costs associated with creating and maintenance a mission-critical EMS infrastructure. Instead, there’s typically a fixed annual fee based on service level and all the headaches are then assumed by the private ambulance service. In many cases, private ambulance service choice and competition help keep costs down.
If you’re a municipal emergency services administrator weighing the options of public or private EMS and ambulance service, we can help you better understand the differences and how they can affect your municipality based on its size, needs, and resources. Give us a call or drop us an email today.