Posted: Sep 9, 2013 10:46 PM by Rebecca Buchanan
Updated: Sep 9, 2013 10:46 PM
GONZALES - The city council here unanimously agreed to the Gonzales Fire Department's request to use an outside billing service for the city's emergency ambulance service at the city council meeting Monday night.
"Tonight was a step forward in our EMS program," Fire Chief Tracey Normand said.
For almost seven months, the council has debated over the need for an outside billing service. Chief Normand explained going with an outside service is the only way to keep the service free to citizens.
He said having an expert on the books will get the department up-to-date on bills and help generate more revenue from insurance claims.
"We can't hire people in-house to do the billing at the percentage this company would collect," he continued. "Every day we're running calls, every day there's another bill so when you get two, three, four, ten a day that starts to add up and when you're trying to do the billing and you're trying to follow up on the billing stuff gets back logged."
At one point some councilmen considered out-sourcing the entire EMS service.
Many citizens, like Chuck LeBlanc, voiced their opinions against an outside ambulance service.
"The thought of even out sourcing it to anyone is totally ridiculous," he continued. "It should have never got to that. You have to do what's right for the citizens of Gonzales. They did that tonight."
Chief Normand said it isn't only about the billing but also about getting to citizens in half the time of outside responders.
"Four-and-a-half minutes, basic response time, I'm talking a basic, first aid call to a heart attack. If you can get there in [that time] and you can render care, the quality of life for that patient after that episode is a lot higher," Normand explained.
The city will have a 90 day out in the contract, which runs for a year.