To ensure it can continue to provide Advanced Life Support medical care to the communities they serve, the Southwest Michigan Community Ambulance Service is looking to increase its special assessment rate.
SMCAS has provided 24/7 emergency response in Southwest Michigan since 1976. They serve residents of the towns of Buchanan and Niles, as well as the townships of Buchanan, Niles, Howard, Bertrand, Milton and Pokagon.
“Providing prompt and experienced emergency care to the communities we serve is a job we take very seriously,” said Brian Scribner, Executive Director of SMCAS. “An increase in our local rating will allow us to continue to provide the high standard of service that we are known for and that our community relies on.”
Currently, each parcel in the agency’s service area pays $20 per year to have Advanced Life Support level service on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This rate has not increased for more than 25 years, but operational costs and call volumes have continued to climb without additional funding. Michigan, along with the entire country, faces a critical shortage of paramedics and paramedics, which poses significant challenges in recruiting and retaining critical team members.
SMCAS is asking for an increase in the special assessment rate to ensure it can continue to provide the high level of skilled pre-hospital care that residents depend on. The additional funding would be used to recruit and retain new and existing staff, compensate staff at industry standard for their work, and better cover operational costs.
“It’s no secret that costs are rising all around us and that includes the emergency services we depend on,” said Dr. Jonathan Beyer, medical director for the Berrien County Medical Regulatory Authority. . “The Special Assessment increase SMCAS is receiving is long overdue and will be essential in helping them pay competitive salaries to attract and retain hard-working EMS staff to serve our communities.”
Under this request, the rate would gradually increase over the next five years. The rate would increase from $20 to $30 in the first year and increase by $5 per year thereafter until it caps at $50 per year. This equates to just over $4 per month per household or package.
The increased requested assessment will help SMCAS avoid reducing EMS services, lengthening response times and limiting critical emergency care; something other communities in Michigan are experiencing.
For more information, visit www.smcas.org.