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CKFR ambulance rates will increase March 1

It will cost a bit more to take a Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue ambulance to the hospital beginning March 1.

The CKFR board of commissioners approved a 1.4 percent increase in ambulance transport fees when they met Monday.

Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the new fees in an attempt to keep up with inflation and bring needed revenue into the fire district.

Originally, district officials had proposed a 2. 5 percent increase, but commissioners said they thought the increase should reflect the current consumer price index (CPI) rate of inflation which had been the policy with the district in the past.

Commissioners were first told that the CPI was 1.6 percent for the local area, but on Monday that figure was revised to 1.4 percent. So commissioners adopted transport fees that reflect the 1.4 percent rate of inflation.

Those rates will mean that basic life support transport fees will increase $8 to $599.  Advance life support fees will increase $11 to $781 and advance life support 2 fees will increase $12 to $885.

As a part of the increase, the district will also raise the per mile rate from $15 to $16 a mile. That fee is charged for every mile the ambulance logs when transporting a patient to the hospital.

Commissioners didn’t discuss the increases in detail because they had previously done so at the last work session. They did, however, discuss a second part of the measure which will add itemization fees for five individual procedures that emergency medics may have to perform.

The itemized items include ECG (electrocardiogram) at $70, IV (intravenous fluids) or IO (intraosseous infusion) at $50, O2 (oxygen)at $50, SAO2 (oxygen saturation levels) at $15 and a C spine (cervical spine precautions) at $40.

Board Chairman Dave Fergus said he had discussed this with several residents and his concern was that these fees would only be assessed if the patient was transported.

“These things could be performed in a person’s living room without their being a charge,” he said. “But if they’re done in an ambulance, the patient will be billed for them. Is that right?”

In reality, if these measures are performed on a patient the likelihood was that they were seriously ill and would need to be transported, Fergus was told.  Assistant Chief Jay Lovato said it was rare that someone who needed one of these items would decide not to be taken to the hospital.

That convinced Fergus to support the measure, and ultimately the board of commissioners passed the itemization list. Those fees also will go into affect March 1.

Commissioners also briefly discussed when to put a measure on the ballot to replace the district’s current EMS levy.

The current levy, which is at 50 cent per $1,000 of assessed valuation of property in the district, will expire at the end of 2015, according to Chief Scott Weninger. Weninger said after studying past measures, April of 2015 was most likely the best time. He said levies generally pass when they are the only item on the ballot and when they were voted on in the spring.

“Levies that are on the primary or general election ballots (in August and November) have failed in the past,” he said. “Those that have been voted on in April have passed.”

He said the cost to the district, if the levy is the only item on the ballot, would be about $110,000. He said the cost of the measure being on a general election ballot with other questions or candidates, would be more like $20,000.

Weninger said he had done some research and there was a possibility that South Kitsap Fire District may have a levy on the April 2015 ballot, which would mean that the two districts could split the cost of the election.

Commissioners didn’t take a formal vote, but in general agreed that April 2015 may be the right time to go to voters to ask them to renew the EMS levy.

Assistant Chief Lovato also reported to the board that for the month of January, Station 64 has been without full time staff (firefighters) on seven shifts. In total, the station was unmanned, except for volunteers, for 111 hours out of a possible 744 hours.

“That’s about 25 percent of the time that there were no career firefighters at the station,” Lovato said.

The district reduced its minimum staffing from 19 to 17 beginning in January to reduce its overtime. Station 64 at Chico is the station that is not staffed if there are not enough firefighters available without going into overtime.

It was chosen because of its proximity to other stations that can respond to calls in the area.

 

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