RICHLAND, Wash. -- it's something we don't think about until there's an emergency, the 9-1-1 call. But the quickness of that 9-1-1 response, and the quality of the equipment in the ambulance can mean the difference between life and death.
Monday, Pasco City Council will vote on whether they should raise the monthly ambulance fees that residents see on their utility bills. Tuesday, Richland will do the same and Kennewick gets their say in June.
"If you think about how much wages have gone up in six years, medical supplies have gone up an incredible amount, med units our ambulances are far more expensive, our equipment is more sophisticated" says Chief Grant Baynes with the Richland Fire Department.
Now all three cities, are in the process of raising monthly ambulance fees. Kennewick to $5.55, Richland to $5.49 and Pasco to $5.85.
"I think this is the best solution, We could always do the service cheaper, but with that comes longer response times, and not near the quality of care. you're getting top notch care. the highest level of service available," says Kennewick Fire Chief Neil Hines.
One issue is growth, something all three cities are experiencing. "You have more people paying into the system each month, the bad news is you have more runs and you have more staff," says Gary Crutchfield, Pasco City Manager who is hoping the increases pass at Monday's city council meeting.
He says a big problem is that Medicaid and Medicare cover only a small portion of these costs and then the rest of the bill has to come from our general fund.
Kennewick and Richland are also considering raising their transport rates to match Pasco's . $660 dollars for residents and $990 for non residents. Hines says it makes sense if all the cities are relatively equal in price.
"We send the closest unit, so if Pasco is tied up on a call, and Kennewick unit is the closest, we send that unit to Pasco call. it just makes sense to keep the fees as close to the same as we can," says Hines.