Action Line: Fire Chief Rich Etheridge discusses cost of ambulance service, abuse of system

    "The ambulance service is part of our entire healthcare system, and - just like everything else - it's not a cheap service,"

    The head of Capital City Fire Rescue talked about the high cost of getting people to medical care while a guest on Action Line today. (Thursday)

    Chief Rich Etheridge outlined the numbers.

    "The ambulance service is part of our entire healthcare system, and - just like everything else - it's not a cheap service," Etheridge explained. "The average price for a medical transport for a basic life support call is about $400, and for an advanced life support call, it's a little over $1,000. Juneau residents get a $100 discount on that because of the property tax they pay, but it still isn't cheap. We have about a 70% collection rate on what we bill out, so we bring in a little over $2.5 million in revenue."

    Which he says comprises between 15 to 20 percent of  the department's annual budget.

    The chief also talked about abuse of the emergency medical system.

    "People that just want a ride to the doctor's office and have no intention of paying the bill takes an ambulance out of service so it isn't there for people with an actual emergency."

    Chief Etheridge noted that CCFR has had "quite a few" people abuse the system.

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