SHERBURNE – For several months the Village of Sherburne has been discussing a system of revenue recovery for its ambulance service, and while no decision has been made on which way to move forward, it appears that future ambulance service is most likely going to come with a bill.
In 2002, the fire department created a task force to look at the possibility of charging for service. At the time, membership was dwindling, and the emergency squad, which was a separate part of the department, was suffering. According to Fire Chief Pat Lawrence, the department later decided to combine the fire and emergency squads, a move he said has worked well. “It seemed to make us stronger,” the fire chief said.
Now, seven years later, the department is again having some difficulties. With the increased number of calls the department has responded to since Superior Ambulance pulled its service from the area in 2007, the members of the EMS squad are over worked and starting to get burned out.
“They’re getting tired,” Lawrence said. “These people have families and jobs. They need help.”
Lawrence and EMS Chief Jay Symonds explained they would like to begin a system of revenue recovery, and down the road, they are hoping the system will generate enough revenue to hire help during the daytime hours when the department is most needed.
There are several possible options for the department to switch to a revenue recovery system. “A volunteer department cannot charge for services. There has to be some type of separation,” Lawrence said. The fire department is interested in pursuing a municipal-based system. “It would create a split on paper, but the day-to-day operations would be unchanged,” Lawrence said.