A meeting was held on Monday, September 9 at 7 pm at the Mint Hill Fire Department on Fairview Road to discuss the future of ambulance service in Mint Hill and to provide the public with information on the current challenges facing the department which serves over 27,000 people.
Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department’s board chairman Jerry Mullis welcomed the crowd and set the agenda for the evening.
“The purpose of this meeting is to explain the improvements within our department to our community,” he said. “We want to explain the approach on our plan to charge for EMS service for transportation to a hospital.”
Mullis used historical data and information about current trends across the country to explain the need to raise funds to support additional positions for staff who would be solely responsible for EMS transport services.
“For 38 years we have provided free service for transportation to a hospital,” says Mullis, “Now we’re about the only volunteer fire department that provides transportation to hospitals, period.”
Life-long Mint Hill resident and current Fire Chief John Phillips started his career in 1974 at age 16.
“A lot has changed since I joined the department,” says Phillips. “If we’re going to continue the level of service the people of Mint Hill deserve, we need to take measures to keep up with the growth.”
Population increases as well as economic growth that has come with the completion of I-485, has the department stretched to the breaking point.
In reviewing the call data, MHVFD reports a 1,323 percent increase in call volume from 1999 to 2012. According their records, the department responded to 252 calls in all of 1999. In 2012, that number jumped remarkably to 3,334. By the end of 2013, that number is expected to keep pace with the 10 to 15 percent annual growth and reach around 3,600 calls.
The increase has not been impetus for Mecklenburg County to provide more funding. In fact, any funding that the department has been receiving from Mecklenburg County will be phased out by July, 2014.
The need to raise funds in now greater than ever, and charging insurance companies for ambulance service for transportation to a hospital for Mint Hill residents is what the department will be doing beginning around October 1, 2013.
Billing will occur for ambulance services provided to all those who reside outside of Mint Hill.
The goal is to hire six new employees whose sole responsibility will be to provide EMS transport services.
“Our current staff provides both fire suppression and EMS transport services,” says Chief Phillips.
The intention is to have the money raised through billing provide the necessary funds for hiring the additional personnel.
At this point the funding is critical to keeping the level of service citizens are used to.
“Without charging we would have to cease providing EMS transport,” says Chief Phillips.
The next public meeting will be September 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm at 8313 Fairview Road in Mint Hill. Call 704-491-6324 for more information, or email Chief Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org