Missaukee County EMS requests new contract for mutual aid services and fees

LAKE CITY – Emergency Medical Services are facing challenges across the nation, from staffing, lack of reimbursement and an overall increase in costs for services. Since August 2020, Missaukee County has seen an increase in calls for mutual aid – an added challenge.

During a July 13th county commissioners meeting, the ambulance service requested commissioners approve a new fee schedule and conditions stated in a new mutual aid agreement. The agreement would ensure that moving forward the county requesting aid would be billed to cover costs.

“We’ve been dealing with increased mutual aid calls for service for 911 into primarily Wexford County,” says Missaukee EMS Director Aaron Sogge. “So in the event we do respond to somebody else’s emergency because they’re unable to, we bill that department directly, it goes both ways.”

Sogge estimates they receive 13 to 15 calls for mutual aid a month. Per the new agreement, standby requests from 911 will cost $300, 911 cancellation/no transport at $400, Advanced Life Support $450 and 911 transport $600 plus loaded mileage at $12 per mile.

“Costs for this deployment has increased exponentially,” says Sogge. “Back in the day, you could get one ambulance with everything you needed for $100k-150k. Today’s world, we’re looking at $270,000 for that ambulance. Medical supply increases continue. We saw a huge rise in the cost for gloves and we use gloves on every patient. We went from paying maybe seven dollars for a box to $25, $30 for a box.”

The increase of  calls for mutual aid may be attributed to a lack of personnel. Missaukee has to pay overtime costs and ensure their station is staffed when a call for mutual aid comes in. Meanwhile, reimbursement for services is low.

Sogge says one way of solving issues of increased expenses and limited personnel, across the profession, is government action.

“They need to take a hard look at the system as a whole. EMS system as a whole is fractured,” says Sogge. “It’s truthfully a dying breed at this point. So in order for this profession to continue to be sustainable and grow to assist those people that need us, they’re going to need to intervene.”

Both MMR and Missaukee County EMS must agree to the new contract for mutual aid before it can go into effect.