Beaver Dam PFC Approves Changes To Fire Department Services

(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Police and Fire Commission Tuesday night unanimously approved the recommendations of an ad hoc committee assembled to consider changes to some of the services offered by the fire department. The viability of the Paramedic Intercept and Interfacility Transport programs were called into question during a debate about the referendum question on the November ballot to fund six new paramedic-firefighters.

The Interfacility Transport program was established in 2007 to generate revenue for the city by transporting patients between health care facilities. The PFC approved the ad hoc committee recommendation to maintain status quo with Interfacility Transports. Non-emergency transports will be run only if off-duty or part-time staff is available. Emergency transports will be run if full-time personnel are available at the station.  Chief Alan Mannel indicated his support for the status quo approach which he says formalizes the unwritten policy already in place.

With a paramedic intercept, Beaver Dam personnel meet ambulances from outlying communities, most with contractual agreements with the city, to provide a higher level of care during emergency situations like a heart attack or severe car accident. Prior to Tuesday night’s vote, the cost of a paramedic intercept was $300 billed to the patient. Commissioner John Oathout explains that the committee recommendation is to allow the program to continue to operation with a new flat fee of $350 per call, billed to the agency requesting the paramedic intercept, which means no more unpaid bills.

“The transport agency requesting the intercept will be billed, they will guarantee this revenue to the city,” he says adding, “The requesting transport agency can bill at the ‘advanced life support’ rate with a signed agreement [with Beaver Dam].”

Oathout says all current agreements will be updated with the new language.

“This will have to be paid regardless if the patient paid,” he says, “Then we have a signed agreement that will allow the agency requesting the intercept to bill at our higher ‘advanced life support’ rate to help offset their costs.”

Any agency that declines to sign an agreement will be informed of the policy and billed accordingly.

There is also an educational component for neighboring communities, with Beaver Dam now explaining the most appropriate times to call for a paramedic intercept to eliminate unnecessary responses. The policy is expected to reduce the number of paramedic requests by 25-percent while guaranteeing revenue on the calls Beaver Dam does respond to. Chief Mannel calls the new approach a “no lose situation” for the city.