I write this letter on behalf of the more than 1,400 professional firefighters, paramedics, dispatch and apparatus shop workers who protect Fairfax County citizens and visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In a letter to the editor June 3 ["Ambulance Fee 'Shameful, Uncaring' " Fairfax Extra], Everett G. Hopson wrote that the county Board of Supervisors should be ashamed to support the ambulance fee because of pressing undue hardships on the poor and the helpless. Part of the problem is that the term "ambulance fee" is a misnomer. This is more accurately a cost-recovery program, and the Board of Supervisors should be commended for having the courage to lead the county into uncovering this untapped source of revenue.
If we are to continue providing the same quality of service that the citizens have come to expect and deserve, Fairfax County must continue to find alternative sources of revenue. Ninety-two percent of people in Fairfax have health insurance with ambulance coverage already. The citizens are already being charged for ambulance transport in their insurance premiums; therefore, the insurance companies are the only ones realizing the windfall. All we are suggesting is recovering the funds from the insurance companies. Our purpose is not to discourage the use of our system; our aim is to continue to maintain our high-quality emergency medical service.
One common misconception is that bill collectors will be utilized to collect from those without insurance coverage. Nothing could be further from the truth. All Fairfax County citizens and visitors will be given the same high-quality emergency medical care and transport they always received, regardless of ability to pay.
Another myth is that people will be afraid to call 911 when they require medical attention. In speaking to neighboring jurisdictions in the Washington area that charge for ambulance transport, we have been assured that this is simply not the case.
The professionals of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department have been providing high-quality emergency and non-emergency service for more than 50 years and will continue to provide that service for many years to come.
R. Michael Mohler
Fairfax County Professional Fire Fighters & Paramedics