EMS, A very important issue

The basis for a discussion of the EMS will be a letter to the editor of the Snyder Daily News written by Perry Westmoreland, the current operator of the EMS. It follows:
For all the right reasons, I’ve tried to avoid any public statements such as this. It seems the time has come.

Wade Warren is right when he says Snyder EMS should have asked for smaller increases all along, and not waited 19 years to ask for our first subsidy increase.

Trying to be a good business partner in the community, and not ask for an increase until one was absolutely necessary was always our intent.

Unfortunately now, it appears that was not a good business plan.

But our conscience is clear.

We have reached the necessary point, and we have been a good business partner with the county.

Perhaps Guardian EMS is correct when they say we should be charging $550 per run and $11.50 per mile all these years, instead of the modest rates we are still charging our customers.

Yes, that would have robbed from Peter to pay Paul, but again, perhaps that is what we should have been doing all along (unless of course, you are the one who gets the bill).

What is not being told is the whole story, and while I can’t possibly begin to address it all here, the highlights follow:

People keep saying we refuse to open our books.

What books do they want opened?

I provide a quarterly report to the commissioners’ court, giving them the financial information they asked for in my contract.

That itemized report has been provided to the governmental oversight body every quarter for 19 years, showing our expenses, revenue, and financial outcome for the quarter.

Additionally, I had my CPA work up an itemized Profit & Loss Statement (P&L) which I provided to Judge Rod Waller, showing our detailed expenses, income, my personal management fee, and listing by category (i.e., office supplies, fuel insurance, salaries, etc.) every dime earned and spent for our last fiscal year.

I went the extra mile, and told the court they had unlimited access to my CPA who would answer any question they had, and I know for a fact that county auditor Charlie Bell visited with my CPA.

So my question is, what books have I refused to open?

My proposal to the court is based on "our current contract" which sets a limit on what we can charge the customer.

The figures noted in Mr. Warren’s column are solely to hire three full time paramedics so that we can staff appropriately.

The day of being able to run Snyder EMS with mostly part time people are gone forever.
I’ve explained this in detail to the court, and I believe they have confirmed with other companies, such as mine, that this type of help is no longer available.

Full time paramedics are necessary to remedy our staffing shortages.

My paramedics are a minimum of $6,000 under paid annually, for a comparable paramedic position in our region of Texas.

They have been great to hang on as long as they have, a credit to them, and a testament to the type of people who answer your calls for help.

But, anyone on our staff can tell you, several have already left for better paying jobs, and in order for me (or any other operator) to attract people here, we must pay a competitive wage.
These people deserve a fair wage.

What I’ve not addressed in this article, because common sense will tell you, is that the cost of fuel doubled in recent years.

Insurance, 3-2 times what it was 5 years ago.

I’ve not addressed the paramedic shortage statewide, which the court has also confirmed other companies are suffering from.

I’ve not addressed the fact that provisions ( such as office space) promised us in our contract by the city prior to 1993, have not been made available to us, and that we have quietly made other arrangements at our sole expense, instead of making a public debate out of the issues,
I’ve not noted that our contract calls for EMT level of care, and that for 17 years, we have provided Mobile Intensive Care Unit level of care, again at our sole cost and expense.
We have purchased almost all of the equipment to make that happen.

I’ve personally taught several EMT, EMT-I and paramedic courses, and provided equipment, supplies, and clinical rotations through our company to make that happen, at our expense.
The list is long, and the editor’s column is limited.

Snyder EMS wants to continue to provide EMS service to this community.

We want to deliver "First Class" care, so that the level of care you have come to expect remains the standard.

We can not continue to do this with overworked staff members, being paid considerably less than a fair wage.

This is not 1987.

We have gone 19 years without an increase in subsidy because of two (customer) rate adjustments granted by the commissioners court, one around 1995, and the other around 2000.
With another rate increase being granted now, we can reduce the requested increase proposed to the court significantly.

I was asked by the commissioners to bring them a proposal based on our existing contract.
That is what I did, telling them beforehand that the numbers would be subject to change based on a new contract.

I furthermore told them that I will not continue to operate under the exiting agreement, which is out of date, and references items that no longer exist.

They are well aware that modifications in a new contract can significantly decrease the subsidy requirements I proposed.

I feel comfortable they are exploring those options in an effort to compare apples to apples and secure a competent provider at a practical subsidy.

I believe the end result will be a decision based on a better collection and evaluation of the facts and necessities, and I feel certain a good decision will ultimately be made.