WILLIAMSON – The Williamson City Council approved a request at Thursday’s regular meeting authorizing Williamson Fire Chief, Joey Carey to move forward with the implementation of an ambulance service for the city.
Carey approached the council stating, “Something I have been working on for quite some time now is trying to get this ambulance service going. This is one way I think I can help with increasing revenue for the town.”
Carey presented the council with estimates outlining the initial startup cost associated with the establishment of the ambulance service and an estimate on the projected monthly cost of maintaining the service.
Through explanation of the estimates, Carey stated that the initial startup cost is estimated at $2,500 and the projected monthly cost for operation and maintenance is $1,350 per month.
“What I mean by startup cost is getting the ambulance physically in the fire station, having it licensed through the state and ready to go out the door and take a call,” Carey explained.
Carey explained the expected monthly costs stating, “This is after I have been talking to the billing people at Medical Claims Assistance (MCA) who went out of their way to help us. They are already doing our fire billing, the EMS portion of it. We are ready to go… All their fees are going to be free to get started. They are going to help me obtain medical and Medicaid numbers to start billing and all of that is free of charge. The only thing they are going to charge is eight percent of reimbursements… “
Following Carey’s explanation of monthly costs, Council woman Judy Hamrick questioned the turnaround time associated with the startup of the ambulance service.
Carey responded stating, “To be able to take a call it is going to take about 30 days. Once the license is established with the state, MCA can start the billing. Before we will get our first reimbursement, the lady at MCA said we are looking at a 90 day window. Once the reimbursements start coming in it is constant cash.”
Carey explained that some of the startup costs could be absorbed by a check the Fire Department had received from the Department of Homeland Security for reimbursement after providing services for Williamson Memorial Hospital during a water outage. Carey also requested that the council approve using the check toward establishing the ambulance service. “I hope that you guys can see that we can use that money and at least get this thing in the building,” Carey stated. “I know without a doubt that this is going to bring us some good revenue,” Carey continued.
The discussion continued focusing on issues such as staffing. Carey explained to council that the staff would be a skeleton crew at first and that staffing could be revisited after the service was up and running.
Williamson Mayor, Robert Carlton, requested a motion to approve. “Would someone like to make a motion to approve the motion as made by the Chief for the use of the $4,185 as startup money for the ambulance service and authorize him to implement the ambulance service?” Carlton asked.
Hamrick stated that the council needed to provide a financial commitment to cover additional costs associated with the 90 day turnaround Carey had previously explained. “I think we need more of a commitment. That is not quite going to cover it. We are probably going to have to carry the month beyond that,” Hamrick said.
The motion was accepted as amended and approved unanimously.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)