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Aldermen to consider city EMS fee

Sunday, July 31, 2022
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Ruston residents could soon see a $5-per-month emergency medical services fee on their utility bills if the city’s Board of Aldermen adopts a proposed ordinance that’s on its Monday night agenda.

The board convenes at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in a meeting that’s open to the public.

The proposed ordinance also increases ambulance rates for the first time in eight years, but Ruston residents won’t pay the upped costs. That’s because no one paying the monthly fee will be charged for the service provided by the Ruston Fire Department.

The fee means city residents will be billed only what their insurance, Medicare or Medicaid will pay. In effect, they will receive no bill for RFD ambulance service.

The fee would generate about $500,000 annually, money that Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said will help offset the rising cost of EMS service.

Walker said Thursday he’s heard no opposition to the plan.

The monthly charge would be applied to each residential and commercial electric utility customer address inside the city limits — regardless of the number of meters at the address. The exception is apartment complexes where the fee would be per meter.

If aldermen approve the order, basic life support transports would go from $700 per patient to $1,000; advanced life support transport from $800 to $1,250; and advanced life support transports requiring specialized procedures, increase from $900 to $1,500.

Last year, 61% of the EMS calls RFD answered were inside the Ruston city limits, as were 57% of the rescue calls. RFD also handles rescue.

RFD has been operating EMS since 1973. Ruston was one of the first, if not the first, municipal fire departments to also run an ambulance service.

Firefighters cross train to handle both assignments. Most of the current firefighters are also emergency medical technicians, advanced EMTs or paramedics.

In other action Monday, aldermen are also expected to consider leasing approximately 12 acres inside the Ruston Sports Complex to a pair of area developers for construction of an 80-site RV park.