Gonzales ambulance fee goes up

Staff reports

Gonzales city councilmen approved a fee schedule increase that will apply to persons who do not reside in the city but who utilize the city’s emergency ambulance service for transport.

Non-residents formerly paid $600 for an ambulance trip within the city limits, plus $15 per mile beyond the limits.

Residents of the city receive free emergency ambulance transport while the city sends bills to insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid when those residing outside the city utilize the transport.

The new fee is based on a sliding system that takes into account the amount and type of medical support required by the person needing the ambulance.

Three categories are included in the fee system. A basic life support patient would pay $650 per trip. 

Advance life support transport is broken into two categories, ALS 1 at $750 per trip and ALS 2 at $800.

The ALS 2 category covers serious medical trauma. ALS 1 covers intravenous medication and non-life threatening injuries.

Councilmen also voted to raise the mileage rate outside the city another $5 to $20.

The proposal to raise the rates was presented by Fire Chief Tracey Normand. The council also authorized the fire department to hire a collection agency to collect on over due accounts.

In another move related to the fire department, the council authorized increases in the pay scale for contract firefighters who augment the permanent fire fighting force.

Formerly paid $9 an hour, contract firemen will now receive $11 to $15 per hour based on experience and fire training courses they have taken.

In an unrelated matter, the council hired a consulting firm to go after money available to municipalities under the Obama administration stimulus plan. Targeted funds would include those to be used on roads, parking lots, sidewalks and a police department building.

The key words for obtaining these type funds is “shovel ready” projects, according to Mayor Barney Arceneaux. He said the city had numerous potential projects.

In other business, Dawn McManus of Atmos Energy said the city could benefit from lower gas prices because it owns its own natural gas facility.

Atmos has been the city’s natural gas agent since 2003.

Large volume industrial plants can now purchase up to 50 percent of their projected natural gas from city plant because it is located near the plants in the same parish, McManus said.

With current low prices, Gonzales can sell natural gas at a discount to large volume customers and still make a profit, McManus said.