Ambulance District gains financial ground

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District continues to make financial gains as activity remains strong in the second half of 2012.

Board members are expected to take action on a budget for the 2013 calendar year during their December meeting. The budget under consideration calls for increased spending of 5 to 6 percent, which corresponds with an increase in business.

According to Jeaneittia Pierce, office manager, district crews are projected to answer 2,850 calls by the end of the year. Except for 2010, calls have increased an average of 50 to 60 annually. Crews are presently answering 220 to 250 calls a month on average.

New ambulance purchased

In keeping with the practice of replacing the entire fleet every four years, board members in September explored replacing its oldest vehicle. Satisfied with a complete fleet of Chevrolets, the board discussed the price of a new vehicle with Marc Kauffman, representing Wheeled Coach, at the September meeting.

Previously, boards have taken different strategies on replacing ambulances. The ambulance box has at times been remounted on a new chassis. This time board members agreed to buy both a new box and chassis.

Board members voted to purchase a 2012 Chevrolet G-4500 from Feld Fire for $129,034. Delivery is expected by the end of January 2013. Instead of trading in unit #409 for $10,000, the board advertised the old ambulance for sale.

Two sealed bids were received. At the November meeting, the Johnson County Fire Protection District was awarded the sale for $20,000. The other bidder, a service in Iowa, offered $15,571.

Positive audit report

During the board's September meeting, a positive report on the district's finances was offered in the annual audit, prepared by The CPA Group. No issues were found with the district's bookkeeping practices.

Total assets for the district increased by more than $200,000 between 2010 and the end of 2011, the audit reported. Operating revenues increased by 6 percent while total expenses decreased by 5 percent.

Following an aggressive strategy of paying down its debts, the district paid off all its certificates of participation in 2011, retiring the debt on its building.

"This decision has saved the district and taypayers $96,514.91 in interest expense over the course of 10 years," the audit stated.

During the November meeting, the board voted to renew the contract with Dr. Scott Freeland to serve as district medical director for 2013 for $3,600. Freeland's duties include quality assurance, reviewing runs and looking at records for ways to improve care. Freeland also reviews basic and advanced life support protocols annually.

Membership was renewed with Missouri Rural Services for $200. Missouri Rural Services is a cooperative through which the district purchases worker's compensation insurance, keeping costs at a minimum.

First responders agreement

At the board's October meeting, a memorandum of understanding was approved for fire departments and districts that act as first responders. Under terms of the agreement, the ambulance district will replace without charge any materials used on scene by first responders. All basic life support protocols followed by first responders must meet ambulance district standards.

Another part of the memorandum addressed liability. Pierce said the agreement states that the ambulance district would not be held liable for any actions taken prior to the ambulance crew arriving, or any action taken beyond ambulance district protocols.

The district is still waiting to receive signed memorandums back from some of the fire departments, Pierce said.

Activity reports

Run reports showed activity during recent months:

* Crews made 251 runs in August, 222 runs in September and 213 in October.

* In August, crews transported 174 patients, taking 50 to Cox Monett, 75 to Springfield hospitals, 6 to Joplin hospitals, eight to Mercy Hospital-Aurora, five to Mercy Hospital-Cassville, 13 to nursing homes and five to helicopter landing zones. Crews picked up nine calls from other services and turned over eight calls due to having all available ambulances busy.

* In September, crews transported 168 patients, taking 51 to Cox Monett, 75 to Springfield hospitals, 11 to Joplin hospitals, four to Mercy-Aurora, two to Mercy-Cassville, five to nursing homes and seven to helicopter landing sites. Crews picked up two calls from other services and turned over three.

* In October, crews completed 153 runs, taking 45 patients to Cox Monett Hospital, 66 to Springfield hospitals, seven to Joplin hospitals, four to Mercy-Aurora, one to Mercy-Cassville, 14 to nursing homes and three to helicopter landing zones. Crews completed four calls for other services and turned over two.

* The district continues to schedule 160 hours of overtime per pay period. Excess overtime, in addition to standby service, was kept to less than 50 hours per month.

* Two paramedics were hired in September and one in November. One paramedic resigned in each of those months.

* Staff completed an emergency medical technician refresher class in November that began in September.

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