Many services have assessed a fuel charge, to recoup their losses, but this is not allowed in Medicare cases. Of all Acadian transports, about 40 percent are Medicare patients. Other companies have been forced to reduce their services, raise their prices, or cut staff.
Acadian Ambulance Service is determined that the high fuel costs will not generate such drastic consequences, even though expenditures for gasoline have exceeded the budget by over $300,000 per month for the last 4 months. The company is dealing with the soaring fuel costs while other expenditures are also rising. For instance, the long struggle with a shortage of medics continues. Because of the shortage, Acadian spends $250,000 per month on unscheduled overtime pay.
The Sprinter will be first tested in Lafayette Parish for three months, and will then be available for Baton Rouge and Houma service areas. It will be staffed with the latest in pre-hospital care equipment, and is capable of adaptation to wheelchair chair use.
The cost of fuel is so high, Zuschlag says, that without adjustments, Acadian would be forced to alter services such as standing by without charge at fairs, festivals and football games – a service supported by the membership campaign. Acadian stands by at an average of 80 football games per week during football season, and hundreds of fairs and festivals through the year. Reducing fuel costs and maintaining a healthy membership will allow the program to continue.
Vice President of Fleet Maintenance Bill Vidacovich joined Vice President of Operations Jerry Romero, Dan Lennie and Steve Kuiper in press conferences in Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Houma Thursday to discuss all the fuel-saving initiatives being taken.
According to Anthony L. Kimery, Online Editor/Senior Reporter and HST eNewsletter editor, it is a nationwide problem with budgets soaring more than 200 percent for some ambulance companies.
“Combined with the consequent rise in other expenditures,” Kimery says, “some have had no choice but to cut back services, put off replacement of aged vehicles and equipment, and to defer repair and maintenance.”
“In growing urban metropolitan areas where proportionately growing EMS calls are already taxing the services of their pool of ambulances and other EMS vehicles,” Kimery says, “fuel costs have strained budgets - so much so that authorities in some localities have had to halt planned purchases of more ambulances, the effect of which could be slower response times for some critical injuries.
One official of a big city EMS service who asked not to be identified told Kimery “some people will die” because an ambulance will not be able to get to them within the “Golden Hour,” that period of time when a trauma victim’s life or death hangs in the balance.”
Vidacovich also responded to the harsh impact of high fuel prices by communicating with Acadian’s entire staff on energy and fuel conservation. Employee-owners were told in detail ways to help the company reduce energy and fuel dependence as a way to GO GREEN. “These tips will save our company significant costs and reduce our carbon footprint on the environment,” Vidacovich said. “The responsibility of energy conservation rests with you.”