Both the Millville and Ocean View town councils voted unanimously this week to begin drafting agreements to charge every household in their respective municipalities a $35 ambulance fee, to benefit the Millville Volunteer Fire Company (MVFC).
Though, to be fair, the fees will benefit the people and businesses of those towns, as much as the fire company.
The new monies should allow the MVFC to have two EMS crews on-call, around the clock. Under the current system, the MVFC has a single night crew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and if that unit is dispatched, a volunteer-staffed ambulance can be called in to help on another call. But, obviously, that takes time to get the volunteer group going — precious time that could come too late in some cases where every second counts.
“If you can’t breathe, six or seven minutes is a long time,” said John Watson, the EMS chief at MVFC. “We’re trying to reduce the amount of time it takes us to get to the first two patients.”
The fee will include every “improved property” in town limits, meaning every built house and business. Empty lots will not be charged at this time.
The fee will also provide a bit of a parachute for residents in terms of cost in case of an emergency. After charging a patient’s health insurance for an ambulance transport, which averages $850, MVFC waives the balance for any participant. Those without a subscription must pay the balance.
This is not entirely new, as many of the beach towns have been on board with this kind of subscription for several years now. It puts cash in the hands of our first-responders so they can improve services, and provides a little peace of mind to anyone who finds themselves on the bad side of an expensive ambulance ride.
These agreements could save lives. And that’s what matters most.