published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
EMS to continue inspections of private ambulances
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - It appears Highlands County Emergency Medical Services will continue doing inspections of local ambulance providers and now will begin charging for standby services when they are called in to substitute for a private firm.
Those answers come from Highlands County officials in the wake of questions raised over the past several weeks during appearances before county commissioners by Highlands County Emergency Services Director Harvey Craven.
The issue of inspections came up during an application by Positive Medical Transport for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Although the private service is subject to a semi-annual inspection by state officials, under county ordinance, EMS officials also inspect the firm's vehicles.
Both inspections use the same criteria.
"What we do is take the state inspection form, go out there and make sure they have the state equipment on the ambulance - that's basically it," Craven said.
The EMS director said that while the state comes out and does a random inspection of some vehicles, the county is more frequent and thorough.
"What occurs is, that when the state comes out, if say you have eight ambulances they may inspect two - or if you had 30 ambulances they could inspect four or five. They don't inspect every ambulance," he said.
However, under county ordinance, EMS officials are charged with inspecting every ambulance that has been authorized by a COPCN. Those certificates are issued every two years. Craven said either he or one of his supervisors does the actual inspection.
Craven told commissioners that although the county submits to the state inspection, they do not have a similar inspection of their own units.
"We have not added any ambulances to the fleet, so we have not had to have inspection of any new units," he said.
And, under ordinance, if the county purchases a new ambulance to replace an aging unit the new vehicle does not require an inspection.
"When you add an ambulance to your fleet, which means you are making your service larger, the ordinance says that would require an inspection," he said.
Moreover, unlike private firms, the county's COPCN does not come up for renewal every two years. In fact, said Craven, it is never due up for renewal.
"We're a division of county government," he said. "If we had a certificate, it would be like the county giving themselves permission to go into business."
However, the county actually does have a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. That was approved in 1996 but contains no renewal procedure.
The issue of standing by during non-elective heart procedures also came to light during a discussion for a COPCN. This time it was for the Tampa-based American Medical Response, which also runs units in Highlands County
"They have the contract to standby at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center," Craven said.
In the past, Highlands County's EMS units would standby at no charge if an AMR unit could not be at the scene. However, county commissioners have asked that practice be changed. They now will be billed at a price of $100 per hour for as many hours as the county's units are tied up.
"We will charge them a minimum of $200, with a $100 per hour fee after that," he said.
Positive Medical Transport has an agreement with Highlands Regional Medical Center to stand by at no additional charge as part of their financial agreement.
"We have told them we will have to charge if we are called to HRMC," Craven said.
why? (by: Sun Ray Napper Valley - 9/19/2013)
How come the news sun is always last to post current events. And they rarely audit the comments until the article has already passed :(
Positive Medical (by: Kevin - 9/18/2013)
Is Positive Medical legally authorized to run with lights and sirens? I have heard since they do not have this certificate, legally they cannot run lights and sirens.
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