ETX city to enforce new ambulance fee

Marshall Fire Department to start charging people who call ambulance but refuse to go to hospital

MARSHALL, TX (KSLA) - In an emergency, every second counts, which means you can’t put a price on life. But, Marshall will soon begin charging residents when ambulances are dispatched in a dire situation.

Fire Chief Reggie Cooper said Marshall will soon begin enforcing a “no transport” fee, a practice he said is becoming more common around the country.

“The no transport fee is basically a situation where the fire department’s EMS service was initiated - we actually go to your home - do some type of advanced life support intervention, and the individual decides not to go to the hospital.”

In June, Cooper said Marshall residents will shell out $100 and Harrison County residents will pay $150 if they receive on-scene treatment, but decline to be taken to the hospital.

"The rise is health care costs has gone up tremendously, " said Cooper. “The care has gone up, the level of service has gone up; everything has gone up, except for the compensation.”

Cooper stated that on average, Marshall makes about 5,000 EMS calls. Over 1,200 of those calls are “no transports”.

“I don’t want any resident or non-resident or whomever to feel should be reluctant on calling or initiating 911,” said Cooper. “If you feel there is an emergency with you, call 911.”

Cooper said last year, the Marshall Fire Department spent $80,000 on medical supplies, when only budgeted for $60,000. This year, his budget was reduced further - to just $55,000.

“In this area, we have a lot of diabetics,” said Cooper. “There are drugs that can make you feel better instantly and you might not want to go to the hospital...those drugs we’re giving are very expensive.”

In fact, over the past year and a half, Cooper said Marshall has lost $800,000 on unpaid EMS bills.

“The costs have gone up tremendously,” said Cooper.

So, this begs the question: what if someone calls an ambulance on your behalf, who pays?

“The individual who makes the decision not to go to the hospital after they’ve been revived would be billed that cost,” said Cooper.

Despite the new fee, Cooper added he wants residents to understand the city “reserves the right to not charge an individual” in an emergency.

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