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One Volunteer’s Thoughts on Ambulance Billing

By Geoffrey Burns

So, the great debate in Montgomery County fire houses, the internet, and just about everywhere else you look is the debate over the implementation of an EMS Transport Fee.

Let’s look at the pros of this initiative:

1)    $14 Million in revenue for the fire/rescue service (actually about $12M after costs for running the program).

2)    More manpower on the rigs on the street.

3)    People don’t lose jobs.

4)    People don’t lose money through furloughs and layoffs.

5)    More equipment to do the job.

Let’s look at the cons of this initiative:

1)……………..

See my point? Have you read Bill 13-10 yourself? If not, please do so. If you search on Google for Montgomery County, MD Bill 13-10 you will find it.

The ONLY thing this is doing is causing a rift between career and volunteer firefighters. I can’t blame the career staff, I would be pissed off too.

This is screwing with their livelihood, their ability to pay their bills, and their quality of life in general.

And not only that, but the fee would benefit the volunteers as well by being able to provide equipment, gear, and tools we should already have to fight fires. So it doesn’t just affect the career staff, but the fire service in Montgomery County AS A WHOLE!

Now, for those of you who would say ‘Well, aren’t you a volunteer with a car and free gas, etc.?’, to answer you, I will say ‘No, I’m not.’ I have a chief’s vehicle, yes, but I made an agreement with my corporation that I would not use any tax funds for the vehicle, that I would pay for all the gas, maintenance, tires, and equipment for the vehicle. I was fortunate to have a friend in the business who helped me out a great deal in getting items for the car either at cost, or demo items that were being discontinued. Any time anything goes wrong with that car, I pay to fix it out of my own pocket. Anytime I need gas, I pay for it out of my own pocket.

Yes, I get a ‘stipend’ check from the county for $300 every July. You know what? Take it back, use it for something else. It’s not something I asked for, or expect, or couldn’t do without.

I heard this on Opie and Anthony this week as they were talking about Cyberbullying and Perez Hilton. Just like not all gay like Perez Hilton or subscribe to his views, not all volunteers in Montgomery County are in favor of blocking this fee or like the people who support blocking it.

I’m sure I’m not the only volunteer in the county who feels this way either.

I was not in favor and voted at my LFRD against supporting the financial end of fighting the fees. I know there were others, and complete corporations who refused to donate to the fund.

The facts are this: The fee is already being collected by many insurance companies. Get the money back to MCFRS where it belongs.

Let’s stop the stupid stuff and remember why we are (or why we are supposed to be) here doing what we do.