Belpre EMT funding idea wins quick support

BELPRE – The president of the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department approved Tuesday of city administrators’ suggested solution to keep emergency medical technicians in the city.

During the Belpre City Council meeting Monday evening, Mayor Mike Lorentz announced his and Safety-Service Director Dave Ferguson’s suggestion of the city ending its four-year contract for third-party billing on medical squad runs and allow the fire department to create its own contract.

“I haven’t had a chance to discuss this suggestion with the (fire department) board of directors, but it is a good plan,” said Eric Sinnett II, president of the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department. “The idea the administration proposed, I think, is the best possible option.”

Lorentz made the suggestion following more than a month of discussions among the city’s administration, fire department officials and council members.

“By having council drop the city’s contract with MCA (Medical Claims Assistance) and having the fire department do their own contract, the city will be relieved of the burden of added employees and our residents will still have the professional services they are used to,” the mayor said.

In May 2009, council passed the final readings of legislation to allow the city to contract with MCA, a company that provides third-party ambulance billing, to bill people taken to area hospitals by Belpre Volunteer Fire Department squads.

Since the contract began four years ago, the fire department has received 20 percent of the funds collected while the city received 80 percent. The solution suggested by Lorentz and Ferguson would reverse this division of funds collected and give the fire department the 80 percent majority.

“Not only will the money we get from this (upcoming) contract cover the EMTs salaries, but also equipment and other things the fire department and firefighters would like,” said Sinnett.