Future of EMS

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Bay County is the last county in the state that does not run its own EMS service.

Chief Bob Majka with Bay County Control says even though Bay Medical Center is doing just fine running the program, it's always good to explore all their options even though it’s being operated at no cost to the county right now.

"The burden of providing that service, the financial burden, is going to increase, and right now Bay Medical Center absorbs that burden by themselves. The county doesn't subsidize the system, and that's a little different."

The county has no official plans to actually take over the EMS service, but staff will be able to present the commission with several options about operating the program by next year.

Randy Vick, the director of Bay Medical's EMS, says it's best to have a hospital run your ambulance program.

"We're the only hospital that doesn't receive the tax support and we're also the only EMS service in the state that I'm aware of that doesn't receive a county subsidy."

Leon County in Tallahassee recently had to take over its EMS operations when the local hospital said the expense was just too much, but when Leon County did take on the EMS, initially it invested about $8 million and only collected $2 million. That's a $6 million loss they had to account for, a loss that Vick says the county shouldn't even think of taking on.

"We're just kind of interested in why they would want to get into something that isn't costing them anything at the present."

Majka says if a similar scenario to Leon County happens here, he would rather be prepared.

"In the future, if people come and say, ‘well, why doesn't the county provide this service?’ You'll have that answer, you'll know this is the cost."

Across the state, the cost usually ends up coming from additional impact fees and taxes.