EMS World

FEB 2017

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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Page 23 of 51

EMSWORLD.com | FEBRUARY 2017 23 of the pockets of paid providers. That's not the case, but it's hard to convince people of that. Most places that have volunteers would have a tough time getting their communi- ties to cover the costs of employing people." Magee acknowledges the hiring process is just one part of a hybrid agency's admin- istrative obligations. She questions whether most volunteer agencies have the expertise to run such a business. "I think the starting point is to hire a full- time manager who can assess what you have and hire the right people. You may find your volunteers will give a lot more when they have the opportunity to work with partners who make them feel safe and confident. "If you're hesitant about giving up the administrative end, just remember that the mission of EMS isn't about control; it's about responding to the ill and injured with the most appropriate level of care." A New Reality for Volunteers In October, just a few weeks after Hun- tington's paid medics started riding, the town announced it was cutting HCFAS' $1.58-million contract by 87% for 2017. Implicit in the agreement is that the squad begin billing patients to pay for staff— unprecedented in its 50-year history. Not all volunteer agencies charge for their services. Springs doesn't, nor do any of its neighboring departments. However, almost every SCEMS squad now hires paid responders to supplement volunteers. According to Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, paid paramedics are "long overdue" and "a step in the right direction in order to improve the quality of services and response times." It's unclear what impact billing plus sal- aried staff will have in Huntington—not only on the public but on the volunteers themselves. When the presence of a revenue stream enables compensation of some care- givers but not all, does that lead to further depletion of volunteers, followed by more career hires, followed by even fewer volun- teers? Is the endpoint of such a trend an all-paid system rather than a hybrid? "As a volunteer, I was proud of what we were doing for the community," says a for- mer HCFAS member. "For many years I donated my time, knowing we didn't charge for our services. Now I don't think it's much different than working for a private ambu- lance for free while my coworkers are get- ting paid. Why would I want to do that?" Answering that question has become the latest challenge for volunteer EMS. R E F E R E N C E S MacKenzie EJ, Carlini AR. Characterizing Local EMS Systems. Washington, DC: National Highway Traf fic Safety Administration, 2013. Morris D. Huntington Ambulance Starts Hiring Paid Paramedics. Newsday, 2016 Sep 11. Vecsey T. Paid EMS in Springs, at Last. East Hampton Star, 2016 Feb 4. Tantongco J. Squad's Budget Cut Amid Switch to Medical Billing. Long-Islander, 2016 Oct 6. A B O U T T H E A U T H O R Mike Rubin is a paramedic in Nashville and a member of EMS World's editorial advisory board. Contact him at mgr22@prodigy.net. PREPARE TODAY. SAVE LIVES TOMORROW. TEXTBOOKS INCLUDED Gainful employment information available at ColumbiaSouthern.edu/Disclosure. Learn more about our online EMS degrees, workshops, and CEUs. ColumbiaSouthern.edu/EMSworld or call 877.258.7153 Offering degrees in Emergency Medical Services Administration and Emergency Services Management For More Information Circle 22 on Reader Service Card

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