Wait, the County may have snookered the City on this EMS shell game

| May 21, 2016
Blackwall Hitch

wellplayedLast week, Annapolis Fire Chief David Stokes discussed the announcement of a new “partnership” between the City and the County, “But the reality is it is nothing more than a good old-fashioned common-sense approach to improve our emergency response capabilities.”

Uhm, really Chief?

According to the information available, the County now plans to remove an EMS unit and 8 personnel from that station to serve other areas of the County, while the City will re-deploy their personnel to the County Fire Station 8 (Annapolis Neck).

Where does the common sense come into play? Anne Arundel Chief Allan Graves claimed it was a win-win situation. Maybe for the County Fire Department and County Executive Steve Schub–they get more people without increasing their budget.

This Memo of Understanding is only for a year, and hopefully the Mayor and Council will take a deeper look at this, or at the very least give a better explanation of how the City benefits.  As it appears, there will be fewer pieces of equipment and personnel to handle the same amount of calls for service (or more). How can response times do anything but go down?

Well played Anne Arundel County, well played indeed.

As to some of the other partnerships established between the City and County…stay tuned as we peel back the layers of the onion referred to as Economic Development and Annapolis Partnership.

Category: Editorial, OPINION

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

Comments (15)

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  1. Bubba jones says:

    But the city stands to increase income from fee for service. The county looses the ems transport cash. Responses won’t be affected either way. It’s a win win.

    • John Frenaye says:

      Bubba– This may be something worked out yet not disclosed. The City currently does not charge an EMS/Transport fee for City residents. This fee is under consideration in the upcoming budget.

      Responses COULD be affected because now you effectively have the City EMS covering 1700 call that they presumably did not before when the EMS from Station 8 handled them. But with the closeness of the Eastport station, I do not necessarily think response times will be impacted. But we might run into the problem with an EMS unit playing taxi while someone in need waits.

      • RWP says:

        John,

        Your wrong. The City does bill all of its medical transports, and has for several years. They bill the insurance companies on each and every call. Where do you get your information from? The added unit to cover Sta 8 will be paid for by the EMS fees collected.

        • John Frenaye says:

          I am looking into it. I personally know of three instances where there was nothing ever billed. Or at least not to the point that it was obviously stated on any invoices.

        • John Frenaye says:

          Actually, here is a text I just received from someone who works for the City with their opinion:

          I am convinced the county is getting the better deal. 1. The city sends 8 employees to a county station. 2. There is no guarantee on EMS fees collected. There isn’t even an estimate of fees. I don’t even think they bill county or city residents. 3. The city can’t even staff the ladder truck assigned to Eastport 36 and now they are sending more employees to a county station. 4. The city is bearing the brunt of the salaries of employees in a county station. 5. County gets to redeploy these employees to other county stations and reduces OT which is 1 1/2 times normal salary.

          Your assessment is 100% accurate. I wonder what Al Kirchner has to say
          Schuh is totally taking advantage of the city. Very smart

      • Al Kirchner says:

        Unfortunately, John you are incorrect. The city certainly does charge. It’s nearly $500 a ride. After my transport last year, they settled for my insurance payment of $250 or something like that.

        • John Frenaye says:

          Then it is random. Per the City code the fee is $700 for BLS and ALS and $750 for ALSII. This should be a really easy calculation to figure out. How many transports Vs how many bills issued …. and then look at how many were waived, etc.

          I am not sure how AFD operates, but I assume that any bill is first triggered by an EMT or Paramagic filling out a form or checking a box on a form. If that is not done, then it may be dead in the water. As I said, I know of three transports in the last year with no identifiable billing from the City for transport.

          On another note, as President of the EVFC what are your thoughts about this sharing of resources?

          6.28.020 Covered emergency medical services
          BLS transport $700.00
          ALS transport $700.00
          ALSII transport $750.00

  2. Rick says:

    What a poorly written piece. As a person who is neutral this issue this column, your article is a one sided piece of trash. It lacks depth, balanced points of view or even a run down of the pros and cons. It simply chastises the city for a decision which you have not even explored. What’s more, you don’t even have the facts right or the facts you do have you’ve twisted to make them misleading. For example only two (2) people per shift are moving to that station, not eight (8). Additionally this station covers more of the city’s area than the county. 1000 calls per year are in the city.

    Did you look or discuss that consideration and the fact that the city’s has been getting a bargain all of these years?

    Finally did you look at the issue that the the City is getting one heck of a deal NOT having its own dispatch center nor even supplying personelle for the County’s? Yes that’s right folks – Anne Arundel County is the sole 911 and dispatch center for the City Fire Department. The city provides NO personelle for this burden. Call 911 and ask for fire and EMS and speak with an Anne Arundel County dispatcher.

    In closing. Leave journalism to the professionals because your column is biased propaganda.

    • John Frenaye says:

      Rick, next time you pick up a dictionary, look up the word EDITORIAL and see what it says. Of course it is opinionated.

      I never said 8 people per shift. The COUNTY put out that 8 people were moving to other County stations. I agree that Station 8 covers more City than County, but it was the poor response times and lack of hydrants for the COUNTY residents down on the peninsula that got that station built; but it is definitely a plus for the CITY residents too. As is the CITY’S response from Eastport into the COUNTY areas.

      Station 8 has been there maybe 4 years. For all the time prior, the COUNTY was getting the deal because the CITY handled their first in calls.

      And yes you are correct in the dispatch center. The County even sort of handles the police…you call 911, get AACo and then when they figure out what is happening they transfer you to Annapolis dispatch where they figure it out all over again!

      Unless you are privy to some other details, the FACTS are that the County is taking personnel and equipment from Station 8 and using them elsewhere. The City is replacing those personnel with existing personnel and equipment. It is not a win-win for everyone. The County gets the upper hand.

      But in all honesty, I think the County should take over the Fire and Police for the City … but that’s another discussion entirely.

      • Albert says:

        Mr frenaye. Ask how much the city pays the county for the 9/11 services. Also very important. ask how many calls a year the Annapolis EMS units run into Anne Arundel county for emergency calls as apposed to county units coming into the city in that same time period. At one time long ago the city paid the county for 9/11 service and the county in turn Paid the same amount to the city to run calls into the Annapolis neck Peninsula. I think you would find it interesting to find out just who gets the best deal.

  3. David Stokes says:

    The Annapolis Fire Department has been charging an EMS transport fee since around 2007-2008. The addition responses from Station should increase transport revenue by about $250-$300k.

    • John Frenaye says:

      Chief…is that consistently applied? I know of three instances of friends that were transported by City medic units to AAMC who were NOT charged. I asked a year or so ago and was told by City Hall that fees were charged only to non-residents. But I do see in the code that there is language that if a City resident does not “provide” insurance info to the medic, no collection action will be taken. Seems like a loophole.

      • David says:

        Everyone transported by an City or County EMS unit is billed for transport. Insurance information is obtained by our medical units at the time of transport or from the hospital by our billing vendor. We did experience billing problems with our old billing agency, which resulted in lost revenues. We ended our contract with that vendor about two years ago. Under the City Code we do not collect a co-pay from City residents, but we do for non-city residents. Under the Station 8 MOU, County residents in the Annapolis Neck area will be treated as City residents for billing purposes. (No copay). We also do “soft billing”, ie: we do not turn delinquent accounts over to billing collections and if patients cannot afford to pay we wave the fee. This fiscal year (FY16) we should raise a 1.3 million in transport fees.

  4. JE says:

    John, It seems you struck a nerve between AACo FD and AFD and Eastport FD. As a representative of the “non Capital” media, maybe some of these higher ups in the various FD stations will offer you a sit down to explain the perceived advantages in this move. If it always comes back to the collection of fees, apparently the service level has taken a backseat to another source of arbitrary income.

    • John Frenaye says:

      Great idea. I am going to ask for a copy of the MOU to see if there is some language that has been missed–as a start and move from there.