Quilcene Fire Department raising rates for emergency medical service Wednesday

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

QUILCENE — The Quilcene Fire Department will raise its rates for emergency medical service on Wednesday.

The change won’t affect service, said the chief of Jefferson County Fire District Number 2.

“We find it necessary to raise our fees, but we don’t want this to discourage anyone from seeking help if they need it,” Quilcene Fire Chief Larry Karp said.

“If anyone is unable to pay, we have a hardship assistance program that can help them.”

The department will prepare bills for submission to patients’ insurance companies, taking over the function from the Quilcene Volunteer Fire Department Firefighters’ Association which has handled the billing since 1955.

Rates are rising by $100 for each of three service levels.

The new costs are $600 for basic life support calls with two levels of advanced calls assessed at $700 and $800.

“We have charged less than other fire departments in the area and this brings us in line with them,” Karp said.

A $400 charge will be assessed to those who decline transport at the scene of a wreck.

“A lot of times we go out and the person doesn’t want to go in the hospital but we need to charge because we’ve spent time and resources checking them out,” Karp said.

“This fee is primarily geared toward people who aren’t local taxpayers since we need to recover the costs.”

Additionally the mileage rate for the calls has increased from $15 to $18 per mile.

“We are operating on a shoestring budget and our current revenues will not sustain this fire district much longer,” Karp said.

“These updated charges are normal and necessary fees to help pay for costs related to transporting and assisting the sick and injured.”

Karp said the department will use federally-established guidelines to determine actual payment requirements.

Anyone having difficulty paying a bill is invited to speak directly to him to come to a mutual solution.

“Those with a financial need will receive needed ambulance service without charge or at a reduced charge,” Karp said.

Karp said that customers will not notice any difference in the service as the department will perform the same functions, first billing insurance and issuing an invoice to the patient for the remainder.

The Quilcene Department decided to not seek a 50 cent per $1,000 levy increase this year until department officials gained a better idea of overall finances.

Quilcene’s 2013 levy rate is 74 cents per $1,000 and is in the lower middle of the tax rate scale; higher than Brinnon and Clearwater but less than Port Townsend, Port Ludlow/Shine Chimacum/Cape George, Discovery Bay and Gardiner.

To contact Karp, phone the fire department at 360-765-3333.

For more information about the department, see www.qvfd.org/.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 29. 2013 7:28PM
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