Need an ambulance in Okaloosa County? It’s going to cost you (or your insurance company) an extra $80 if you are a local. Okaloosa County’s Board of County Commissioners, the elected officials who oversee Okaloosa EMS, voted unanimously for the increase at Tuesday’s (June 21) meeting.
An ambulance ride in Okaloosa County will now cost $880 for residents and $1340 for non-residents. Okaloosa EMS will also begin to charge for training services as well. This includes CPR lessons and other training the Okaloosa EMS division performs regularly.
The Public Safety Chief, Patrick Maddox said that the increases are absolutely necessary.
“Costs to run the operation have increased many times over. During that time period salaries, fuel meds, equipment, we provide premier level pre-hospital care, and we’ve had perfect accreditation scores,” Director Maddox said, “We were recently just yesterday awarded the 2022 Mission Lifeline Gold Plus Standard Award through the American Heart Association for cardiac and stroke care. That’s the level of service we provide. And we do so by endeavoring to continue to hire the best talent in the industry, and to seek out the latest and best technology in the industry in order to provide that level of service.”
Realistically, everything has gotten more expensive – and Okaloosa EMS has to keep up. The outfit has to contend with an increase of 87% in gasoline prices for its ambulances and increased personnel costs. To make matters more difficult – EMS saw an additional 3,000 calls for help in 2021 than it did in 2020.
The increased fees will generate about $500,000 in revenue for the EMS division to continue operations.
Commissioner Trey Goodwin noted that without the increase in fees the costs for the services provided would fall solely on the property owners in Okaloosa County. “We’re trying not to burden the locals, the residents, but they are going to bear the brunt of some of it,” Goodwin said, “When you pick with the lesser of two evils, I guess, this is the better way to go.”