East Fork offers new ambulance subscriptions

Douglas County residents worried about ambulance costs will soon be able to rest easy. East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts is offering Douglas County residents a new ambulance subscription program.

The service, which will cover any deductible or out-of-pocket ambulance expenses in case of a medical emergency, is available to all residents within the East Fork's ambulance coverage area.

The program covers all 911 emergency calls and medically necessary trips to and from healthcare facilities, doctor's offices and nursing homes within 75 miles.

Twelve months of coverage will cost $75 per household and sign-ups start Monday. They'll continue through the end of June for the upcoming year, which starts July 1, according to Bobby Wartgow, deputy fire chief for East Fork Fire.

For an application, call the East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts, 782-9044, or stop by their office on the first floor of the Minden Inn, 1594 Esmeralda Ave. in Minden.

Five East Fork ambulances serve Carson Valley from Jacks Valley to Topaz Ranch Estates and if needed, another five volunteers are available to help. East Fork handles about 4,000 calls annually, that number increasing by 3 to 5 percent over the past few years with the growth in population, Wartgow said.

Officials didn't think the demographics here would lend themselves to this type of program because most people in Douglas County have good insurance, but decided to initiate the program due to public pressure, he said.

"It's a popular idea with seniors here," he said. "Peace of mind is the primary consideration for most people and that's one of the issues that helped us make the decision to go forward."

Those with Medicare and good secondary insurance probably don't need this service, but some of those residents have expressed an interest in joining to support those who do, he said.

"If an applicant's cost for an ambulance won't run over $10 or $20, we will tell them," Wartgow said.

The program is strictly voluntary, but East Fork officials are hoping to get between 2,000 and 2,500 subscribers. Overhead costs, which include software, advertising and some extra staff time, are minimal, Wartgow said.

"There will be some extra work during the application phase," Wartgow said. "We'll be running the program for the first year, even if only one person signs up."

The program, which has been successful in neighboring counties, could generate up to $180,000 for Douglas County, according to East Fork officials.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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