North Las Vegas backs off increased patient transport by Fire Department

The North Las Vegas Fire Department on Wednesday was directed to stop the stepped-up transport of emergency patients to hospitals that it began a few weeks ago.

The City Council in a split vote rejected the department’s new proposal to take over transporting more emergency patients to hospitals instead of turning them over to private ambulance services. The proposal was meant to increase revenue for the cash-strapped city because the department would bill insurance companies for the service. Fire officials estimated the move would bring in about $600,000 a year.

That extra revenue was included in a budget plan the council approved last month, and the department on Sept. 1 began transporting about 11 patients a day. Previously the department averaged fewer than one transport a day.

Under the proposal, the department was assuming more emergency transport services for 911 "delta level" patients — the most seriously sick or injured — and traffic accident patients in the city. But the item was placed on Wednesday’s council agenda for clarification, and the council rejected the proposal 3-2.

Council members Anita Wood and Robert Eliason said they didn’t think that the original proposal was presented in a transparent enough manner and that there was still a lot of uncertainly about how much money it would bring in, if any.

Wood said it put the city "in competition with our private ambulance company," MedicWest.

Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown also voted against the proposal.

MedicWest worked with fire officials to develop the proposal, and a MedicWest official told the council Wednesday the company was committed to helping the city despite the fact that handing over some of its transports would hurt its bottom line.

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