Working to provide better coverage of high school football games throughout the area.

Butler County EMS, Butler County school districts and first responders throughout the county will be working to provide better coverage of high school football games throughout the area.

Administrators from Bluestem School District brought up the issue during the Butler County Commission meeting Tuesday morning.

Bluestem Superintendent Randy Rivers said he experienced an incident at a football game at Medicine Lodge where a player had a severe compound fracture and Medicine Lodge had EMS on site.

"It made us start thinking," Rivers said, "what if that sort of thing happened at our house and what can we do about it. We wanted to open a conversation to plan or deploy EMS so there are equitable response times throughout the county where there is football going on at the fields in the county."

Brandon Russell, EMS operations coordinator, explained their procedures for deploying ambulances.

Standard deployment during the day is to have two ambulances staffed 24 hours a day in El Dorado and one each at Augusta, Andover and Rose Hill. On Friday evenings, they are directed if they are not busy with status management or on call to be on standby in areas in their districts for games.

One thing EMS does is on football evenings if they have a reserve team of volunteers sign up they will put them in a spare ambulance to go to an outlying game.

"What we recommend to outlying communities is we give training to all fire departments and they are certified the same way we are," Russell said.

"One of the reasons we have some questions is because we are not being communicated with as far as what our schedule is," Rivers said. "We're asking, let's communicate to make sure you know when football games are and we can know what deployment looks like on those nights."

Russell said he does pull all of the varsity football schedules at the start of the year and puts them on a calendar which is available to all of their employees.

He also recommended local fire departments be requested for games if there are not EMS volunteers available.

Brian Minks, Bluestem athletic director, said their fire department asks for compensation for their time.

"My thought to them was we're not going to pay volunteers, especially if they cannot transport," said Damien Korte, Bluestem School Board president.

Grant Helferich, EMS director, agreed it would be advantageous to get all of the athletic directors and trainers together throughout the summer to go over details.

Rivers said if there was any way in which they could help facilitate that they would do so.

Further looking at the EMS Department in a later item, the commission held a work session to discuss EMS collection services.

Helferich said they were proposing hiring a collection agency to collect past due bills.

The EMS currently has about $218,000 in outstanding private pay patients, as reported Sept. 12.

In 2012, Medicare was about 30 percent of revenues, but 40 percent of the write-offs; Medicade was 4 percent of the revenue and 22 percent of write-offs; third party insurance is 18 percent of revenue; and private pay is 7 percent of revenue.

Helferich said they have never done anything other than sending a letter saying a person owes money. He also said they don't have an official write-off, rather they remain as uncollected funds.

They are proposing hiring a company to help with this.

The fee would be anywhere from $100 to $125 for a filing fee to get a garnishment, which would be recouped from the person who owed the money.

"They do not garnish fixed incomes or people on welfare," Helferich said.

He also asked about interest being charged on those accounts to provide an incentive to pay, but the commission did not support charging interest.

"What is the overall percent we could gain, realistically speaking?" asked Commissioner Ed Myers. "I have worked in my business to shorten those receivable cycles as much as possible."

He has found the longer something goes unpaid the less likely it is to be paid.

Helferich said currently people get three statements over the first 90 days, then a fourth statement asking people to contact their office to arrange payments or provide insurance within 10 days.

After 60 days, the company looks into a person's ability to pay and employment and does financial counseling to see if a person wants to do payments before recommending garnishment. It would take about eight months to get to garnishments. They do get about 33 percent of what is collected, not including the $125 fee charged, which comes back to the county.

"If there is a high probability (of being collectable) why not go to $300?" asked Commissioner Jeff Masterson.

Commissioner Peggy Palmer recommended staff take a day to make calls to those who owe, but County Administrator Will Johnson said they don't have the staff in place to do those follow-ups.

"This is your best alternative," Johnson said.

Helferich also pointed out it is a month to month agreement so they can try it for a while, then tweak it.

The commission agreed they should go with a minimum of $300 owed to send to collections. Helferich will make the changes in the agreement and bring it back to the commission.