48ºF

Detroit City Council plans EMS overhaul

Leaders estimate over 40 percent of runs its rigs are dispatched to are non-emergencies

After listening to insiders and looking at the books Detroit's City Council is tackling an overhaul of how the city's EMS division runs.
After listening to insiders and looking at the books Detroit's City Council is tackling an overhaul of how the city's EMS division runs.

DETROIT – After listening to insiders and looking at the books Detroit's City Council is tackling an overhaul of how the city's EMS division runs.

Department leaders estimate that more than 40 percent of runs its rigs are dispatched to are non-emergencies -- that's wasting resources and putting response times above the national average of 12 minutes.

A look at the books shows more than $3 million in uncollected usage fees.

"This is one of those areas where I don't have much sympathy for people who would abuse the ride," said City Council President Pro Tempore George Cushingberry.

Those abuses include calling EMS so that prescriptions can be refilled or needing to get a broken arm set. These kind of calls are a constant problem.

Cushingberry and his colleagues on council will be rolling out changes to the system in January. Included in these changes are a ranking system for calls, an aggressive collection strategy for overdue payments and hundreds of dollars in fines for constant offenders.

Perhaps most significantly, Cushingberry is looking at using Medicaid and ACA monies to provide transport in taxis, rather than ambulances for non-emergency medical situations.

"I think we need to use both the carrot and the stick," Cushingberry said. "I believe there are funds available in the new Medicaid and ACA law for us to be able to change the way we provide those kind of rides to individuals so that we don't have to send a $600,000 unit instead of a taxi that would cost us a lot less."

Watch for the council to take up the overhaul in January and expect that it will take the better part of next year to implement.


About the Author: