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SPRINGDALE -- Ambulance rates could change for those areas where the city Fire Department responds.

Methods used to dispatch fire and medical service to Tontitown, however, will not change according to a resolution going to the council.

AT A GLANCE

Springdale City Council Committees

Committee members voted to recommend that the full council approve:

• A city insurance contract for $104,000

• The change of Youth Strategies overseeing the community garden

• Listing the old police Criminal Investigation Division building for sale at $495,000

• Spending $20,000 to renovate the building at 210 Spring St. for the Community Engagement Division

  • Spending $25,000 for labor to improve a baseball field at Tyson Park with Ecclesia College paying for materials.

Source: Staff Report

The Springdale City Council Police and Fire Committee voted Monday to send adjusted rates to the entire council, with a recommendation for approval. The committee also sent a resolution to the full council that stated the city will not change how it dispatches in Tontitown, which now has a new city fire department to go along with the area fire department that has responded for years.

The ambulance rates would no longer be based on what Medicare pays for patients it covers, said Mike Irwin, fire chief. The old rate for basic medical care during the transportation of a patient, Medicare rate plus 15 percent, would change to $425 for the trip.

"That would be about the same charge as the current fee," Irwin said. "The change would be bundling the other fees."

In the past, medical items used by medical technicans would be added to the fee, such as the cost for a catheter, Irwin said. The new prices would include the level of patient care in the cost, he said.

Basic life support is the starting point, Irwin said. Adding intravenous medication could increase the level to advanced life support 1, Irwin said. Advanced life support 2 would be, for example, a cardiac patient who is receiving a lot of medications, he said.

"Medicaid is going toward this bundled billing," Irwin said.

This makes sense, said Jim Reed, alderman.

The changes also would add charges for basic or advanced support without transporting a patient to the hospital, according to the ordinance presented to the committee. The basic would be $200 and advanced would be $275. The charge per mile would go from $10 per mile to $11, Irwin said.

The cost for emergency medical service standby would go from $120 per hour to $150. Standby for nonprofit charitable organizations would be half price, $75 per hour, stated the ordinance. The charge for standby at school football games in the city would be $150 per night.

Prices could also be adjusted each year by the federal Consumer Price Index to keep pace with inflation, stated the ordinance.

The fees apply inside the city limits or to an area outside city limits covered by a cooperative service agreement. The cities of Lowell and Bethel Heights, as well as part of rural Benton County near the city, are covered by service agreements. Washington County pays a fee for those in the county outside Springdale where its ambulances respond, Irwin said.

Charges for treatment to those in police custody will be the responsibility of the patient, stated the ordinance.

Who responds to fires in Tontitown will have to be worked out between the city and the area fire department board, said Kathy O'Kelley, police chief. The Springdale dispatch center calls out responders to fires and emergency calls in Tontitown and a small rural area around it.

The calls will continue to go on the old area fire department frequencies, which the city department can monitor, Irwin said.

"We are not changing what we do," O'Kelley said. "They will have to figure out who has the jurisdiction."

Doing it any other way would not have been wise for Springdale, Irwin said.

"Putting the decision on us who to call would cause our liability to rise tremendously," Irwin said.

A contract that goes with the resolution will state that the Springdale dispatch center will not add any additional equipment, O'Kelley said.

The need for the contract came when a company came to Springdale saying they had orders from Tontitown officials to add equipment to the dispatch center.

"I think Tontitown should have come to us and asked first before ordering changes in our equipment," O'Kelley said.

The contract runs through the end of the year. Tontitown is planning to switch its dispatch to Central Emergency Medical Service, Irwin said.

NW News on 06/17/2014

Print Headline: City Council To Consider Ambulance Fee Adjustment

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