Author: Tim Nowak
PCG recently presented a webinar in partnership with the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) outlining ambulance service “worth” … and believe it or not, defining “worth” may not be as objective as we expect (or hope) it to be.
Our industry’s mantras of “if it saves one life …” and “because seconds count …” no longer hold the same voting weight as they once did. Now, appointed officials, elected officials, and voters are basing their decisions – and your ambulance service’s “worth” – on justification, accountability, and evidence-based practices. That “worth” is then being translated into financial support (or a lack thereof).
This public valuation is largely based on the information that is shared with them … what you as the fire chief, EMS director, or agency administrator share with them through annual reports, financial dashboards, agency website, strategic and master plans, and regular board meetings.
In relaying your costs – outlining your need – its important to help your community’s stakeholders become aware of some of your ambulance service’s financial elements … even some of your financial challenges (here’s a few to communicate to them):
- Personnel vs. Operational vs. Capital Expenses – Outline what it actually costs to operate your agency/department … along with how inflation impacts each part of your expenses, too
- Cost per Call – Every time your units are requested to respond, there’s typically a net expense; ambulance services may generate revenues, but not typically covering the full cost of being ready to respond (and then having to respond)
- Charges Don’t Necessarily Equal Collections – Unlike having an electrician come to your house to do some wiring, a $1000 bill doesn’t necessarily mean your ambulance service is getting paid all $1000
Communication is the key! Community stakeholders need to hear about your financial needs – realities – often and now … not scarcely and later. “If you build it, they will come” … and “if you inform them, they will support” play hand-in-hand if information is readily available.
Remember, your “worth” isn’t at all about the numbers that you believe … it’s about the numbers that you can prove (and what your community is willing to pay for).