Five Hundred Dollars

Charge the City of Providence $500.00 every time a surrounding community sends a rescue to the capitol city? How about we charge a twenty dollar co-pay to people who call 911 for a ride to the hospital instead.

Last week's highlights (my shift, Rescue 5, not the whole city, or even close)


-a woman who smoked "Crazy Monkey" potpourri thinking it was "Scooby-Do," and got nervous

-a nine year old who split his lip after tripping on some stairs

-a seventy year old female, in bed at two in the morning complaining of "tiredness."

-four or five MVA's with no visible damage, all occupants needing emergency transport to the ER to pad their case

-more intoxicated homeless people, at least twenty calls to take them to detox, some three times a day




-enlarged prostate


This problem has been gaining momentum for years, and is at the breaking point. But who will break the cycle? Not me, I'm under orders to transport "any person who calls 911 for any reason." Not the people at City Hall, they want to keep everybody happy. Not the Union, it's not their job to babysit the public. Not the Chief. Not anybody.

Liability I'm told.

I've been squawking about this for years, nobody listens, or cares. And people keep on calling 911 for free rides with no parking fees, and the rumor that they will "get in faster."

And nobody stops them.


  • Local212 says:

    I beg to differ with you on some aspects of your statement. It’s actually not city hall’s job to keep everyone happy, it’s their job to do the best for the taxpayer/electorate. But we all know that their real job is ensuring re-election and all too often the tax payer/electorate in an urban area such as Providence like things the way they are. They’re also the bulk of your clients. The union isn’t responsible for baby-sitting the public, this is true. However, their job is to protect the best interests of the members and THERE is where they have failed us. They have not stepped in and said “we’re getting hurt, tired, burnt out, sick, misused and our skills wasted! Something must change and here’s how it can be done…” Keeping in mind that most (I think) members of the Ambulance Advisory Board are union members there is an easy partnership there but I have not seen it develop. Our union has the weight, numbers, clout and political strength to feed change, to work with Health, to educate the public, etc but they have NOT stepped up to that end. Let’s face it, you change the system and the OT will slow down, the runs will slow down and the fear of getting LESS dues-paying union members will override any semblance of reform. The union should be addressing this, pushing change but they haven’t and that’s not shocking but it is said. Maybe it will change but I won’t hold my breath.
    Your Chief(s) has also failed you. They’re job (among others)is to protect their men and women (even if that means kicking a few asses)and here they have failed you. They have failed you in the same sense that the union has failed you (hey, how about you work TOGETHER fellas). You mention the fear of “liability”. I call BULLSH*T and you know damn well why. Where’s the fear of liability when you have to wait for a mutual aid rescue because ALL city rescues are tied up with an abundance of nonsense. Any particular incidents recently come to mind? How long to the city looses a MAJOR law suit due to a delayed response? Never mind it’s not the Department’s fault, perception and headlines are what matters.
    I have said it before: Not everyone who calls gets a truck, not everyone who gets a truck gets transported, not everyone who gets transported gets a medic truck! But what do I know…

  • Michael Morse says:

    I’ve said all that and more in the past, and linked to the published editorials, I simply have lost interest in the whole thing and can’t muster the passion you did so well with this comment. Thank you.

  • Heddwch says:

    Oh Michael, Every time I read stuff like that, it makes me glad that we moved to Whidbey. I honestly don’t know how you do it day in and day out. I couldn’t. I wish there was an easy fix. The fix will take generations to straighten out and re-educate folks. Until then, you are in my prayers.

  • Steve says:

    Here in Lubbock, TX, I’m trying to educate folks about neighborhood clinics as alternatives to ER centers, but to little avail. Here, if you go to the clinic and they decide you need more, you are ‘pre-admitted’ to the ER, and will be seen upon arrival, regardless of how you arrive. And if you don’t need the ER, you get treatment at a reduced cost and with little wasting of your time!
    But it’s too easy, of course, so folks ignore it (and it doesn’t help in legal cases, later on, either!).

  • Local212 says:

    See, the idea behind the $500 bucks isn’t bad. *dodges bullets* Seriously!! Because it will bring MORE taxpayer voices to the table who may end up hearing some harsh truths like: you don’t need a rescue, you will NOT be seen quicker, it’s costing us all a TON of money. That may lead to actual change if nothing else due to financial reasons.

  • Mike says:

    The thing about this that sucks for everyone, is that the gerbils that run the city of Providence have been using the cities of East Providence, Johnston, Cranston, Warwick and others to do the runs that Providence should have 3 more rescues to do….. We all have bullshit runs, drunks, transportation, “get in quicker” etc. The difference is that we do them ourselves, with minimal aid from surrounding towns. Providence takes it for granted that they can slough off thousands of runs a year onto Mut aid. Not a problem created by you or the brothers… Simply understaffed, not enough rescues….City hall problem.

  • Michael Morse says:

    Rescue 5 is on pace for 6000 runs this year, R-4 7000, the rest over 5000. Mutual aid isn’t the only problem, keeping good people on the rescues is next to impossible.

  • Local212 says:

    Mike, you have a valid point but simply adding more rescues and handling the volume would only treat the symptoms not the underlying disease. Sure, it’s a good (and necessary) first step but will it ever be enough? You’re also not removing the burden (and cost) that it is placing on the health care system. So yes, more rescues 1st but at the same time start addressing the root cause of the problem. Hit many of these people with actual fees and you will see the BS drop off considerably.

  • Mike says:

    I agree 100% with you, 212. Honestly, I place a large portion of the blame on 5-0. Whatever happened to the drunk tank? Used to be, drunk and disorderly was a trip to a cell to dry out, not a free pass to “I want to go to rehab”. And I agree that charging for these runs is a great start,but I have to wonder how many of these pts are already depending on state aid to pay the hospital bill. I would also hat e to see elderly pts that NEED to call not calling because of a fee….. Not a lot of simple solutions, but fact…. Based on the population in Providence, there should be more rescues. While it wouldn’t weed out the BS runs, at least it would spread them out a little, leading to better response times, less mut aid, and less burnout, I would think…

  • CONCERNED says:

    Lets look at Massachusetts and Conn. they use pvt EMS?????? oh wait that would piss off the union

  • Michael Morse says:

    I don’t know how or why other towns and citys do it, all I know is I show up and roll till I leave, I really don’t care if unions, polititians ar Ghandi is to blame, I just know that the root of the problem is the general public;s abuse of the 911 system, and until that stops, nothing will improve.

    Hiring private companies to get fat off the absurdity that EMS has become does nothing.

  • mpatk says:

    The hope is that private EMS won’t hesitate to collect from the patient for the BS run (up to and including collection agencies).

    Private EMS is, to put it bluntly, a hell of a lot cheaper than fire-based EMS (which causes its own problems, but that’s a different discussion). Does Providence run medic engines, or are the medics only on the ambulances?

  • CONCERNED says:

    very true that the entrie system is broken… to not stack the bs runs and triage the dispatch of resources is also absured. look at Boston EMS, they use pvt ems as a back up and triage the calls that need als vs bls,,, and they are a lot busier than providence… there has to be a merger of pvt ems and public resources….. there would be NO union jobs lost,,,, wake up

  • Bill says:

    Mike I read this blog all the time and work on the “blue” side of the aisle while dabbling with vollie work on the side. Your sort of correct in blaming the pd for some of your calls. I rarely if ever dumped a D. I took it myself unless they couldn’t walk. Unlike MA, RI does not have a law regarding public intoxication. It is perfectly legal to be drunk in public. Furthermore, your wonderful city as a matter of policy does not allow drunks in the cell block, to certain level at least. Hence, much like you, they can’t change policy. All EMS providers, public, private, union and non-union get bullcrap calls. It’s a matter of volume that’s all. The answer lies in telling those that are BS they won’t get service; that would require support from your management, the State and the dreaded attorneys. I won’t hold my breath. In the meantime the mutual aid pact should fall and let the city fulfill it’s role and step up the plate.

  • Like response times, this is about politics, not medicine.

    No one will particularly care WHO shows up, as long as someone shows up and takes them to the hospital.

    Do FDs in Rhode Island bill for transport?

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