Trenton Fire Chief Proposes Alternative Revenue Plan for Fire Department

Budget cuts and firefighters on medical leave have prompted Trenton Fire Department officials to come up with new ways to generate revenue for the department.

The number of firefighters at the Trenton Fire Department is the lowest it's been in several years.

Department officials proposed an alternative revenue plan to city council members at a recent study session. If approved, the alternative revenue source might allow the department to hire new firefighters.

Trenton Fire Chief Bruce Vick asked council members to consider allowing the fire department to use department personnel and ambulances to transfer patients to and from local facilities, otherwise known as non-emergency inter-facility transfers.

For example, the Trenton Fire Department would charge Oakwood Southshore Medical Center to transfer a patient to another facility in the area. Capt. Glen Scafidi said Southshore currently pays other ambulance companies to transfer about 17 patients per day, and the Trenton Fire Department could handle at least two of those transfers.

Scafidi said an average transfer costs insurance companies about $400, which means the Trenton Fire Department could generate about $268,000 per year by performing two inter-facility transfers per day.

Scafidi said emergency calls would take precedent over inter-facility transfers and the Brownstown Fire Department could be also called upon to handle calls.

"If a 911 call comes in the transfer would wait and the 911 call would be addressed," Scafidi said.

Most inter-facility transfers are covered under most insurance plans, according to Scafidi.

Fire departments in Rochester Hills and Alpena currently perform inter-facility transfers.

About 40 hours of additional training would be required for firefighters before performing inter-facility transfers.

Vick also asked council members to consider hiring three new firefighters at the study session.

Council members cannot vote on an issue proposed at a study session and the proposal was not added to the agenda for the next city council meeting by Wednesday afternoon.

The next Trenton City Council meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3.

Janet Vandenabeele November 28, 2012 at 11:14 PM
If means more emergency personnel are available and more trained firefighters get to keep their jobs, and safer transports for ill patients, how is it not a win-win-win?
Cindi Ames November 29, 2012 at 03:16 AM
There shouldn't be a question.
Essen Davis November 29, 2012 at 09:52 AM
Oakwood already owns it's own ambulance service.. if it is so profitable to add one more bus, don't you think they would have?
Essen Davis November 29, 2012 at 10:16 AM
yeah, I thought about it more. I think the non emergent bill is about half what the emergent bill is... so missing one call here and there, you reduced your services and gave your resident slower service and the next city the money. at say 60,000 per year for employee and benefits, those three people cost 180,000. that leaves 90,000 to make as "profit" but if while making that 90,000 you miss a single emergency call every third day... you just broke even, and watched your staffing go from 7 to 6 and now 5 + losing an ambulance (which 1/3 to 2/3 of the time are both on 2 separate 911 calls at the same time) but telling yourself it is 7... now then do you double down and run more non emergent and miss more emergent? where does it end? All the while the taxpayer pays the same as if there are two 911 ambulances at their service. Should it even begin? You can't schedule emergency calls despite how it was worded in the article, so a call comes in after a patient is already loaded... you can't drop off a patient halfway to ann arbor and teleport back to trenton. I think it is a well intentioned plan, but flawed... and Nate posed a legitimate question. It goes back to my first post... they own their own ambulance service and aren't running out and putting another non emergent ambulance in service for a reason, and that reason is money.... it is a for-profit service.
jc December 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM
RIGHT ON ESSEN!!!! not to mention a typical non emergent call will take 3-4 hours from door to door and home again (depending on destination), time 2-4 calls a day thats up to 16 hrs in a 24 hr shift with one ambulance.


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