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Okaloosa County ambulance fees going up
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- Ambulance fees are going up in Okaloosa County.
Commissioners approved a hike to cover rising demand and cost of service.
Previously, ambulance rides cost between four-hundred and one-thousand dollars based on the level of care, and whether the patient was a county resident.
Starting August 1st, all patients will be charged eight-hundred dollars for ambulance transportation, plus mileage.
Mileage fees will increase from twelve to fifteen dollars a mile.
Ambulances like this get a lot of use.
It's not uncommon for crews to leave on one call, and not return until the end of their shifts.
Most people don't think about the moment they'll have to call an ambulance.
For Jackie Vermilion and her son Dallas, it was when he had a seizure lasting more than half an hour.
Dallas Vermilion/FWB "I think the worst one yet she thought I was going to die at one point"
Dallas's ambulance ride cost six-hundred fifty dollars.
Ambulance fees in Okaloosa County haven't gone up in five years.
But fuel and other costs have. The supplies here are a small part of what's needed to stock the fleet.
A heart monitor like this costs fifteen thousand dollars.
Ethel Bowen/FWB "The cost of living is ah, what can I say? It's bad! Everything is going up, and it shouldn't"
Funding for ambulances is a combination of user fees and property taxes.
This increase means a larger portion of the cost will be paid by people who use the service.
Ethel "Think about the people that cannot afford it. Find other means"
The new fees will raise an extra nine-hundred-thousand dollars a year to keep the program running.
Mike Danilov "The necessary stuff, you know, like food, gas and ambulance, medicine, at least be like something affordable for the people"
Jackie Vermilion "Honestly, it's worth every penny when you're in a life or death situation, it really is. So I mean you can't say that's too expensive, you just can't"
The Public Safety Director says this increase simply brings ambulance fees in line with state and national averages.