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Starting January 1st, DeSoto County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will implement a new fifty dollar fee for individuals who call for medical assistance, receive treatment, but then refuse to be transported. The purpose of this fee is to crack down on instances of individuals abusing the system and to help defer the rapidly increasing cost of providing medical care.
Chronic abuse of the 911 system poses a very serious problem for DeSoto County EMS. When 911 is called for non-emergencies and emergency personnel respond, EMS must expend valuable medical resources that otherwise could go towards another emergency medical call that is truly a life threatening situation. “We had a woman who called for shortness of breath. When we arrived, she just wanted help getting a drink out of the fridge,” stated DeSoto County Emergency Services Director, Mark Davis. Davis noted that, while this is the most extreme example of abuse he has encountered during his tenure as EMS Director, there are individuals who call EMS on a weekly basis for medical situations that should require a trip to a physician rather that a visit from an ambulance.
To County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard, this fee provides an opportunity to protect citizens who are in need of immediate, life-saving medical care “This is to make sure an ambulance is always available to those who actually need it,” said Lynchard.
Mark Davis added that there will continue to be no charge for community assists, such as blood pressure or blood sugar checks, which have previously been provided. This fee should not act as a deterrent from calling 911, but should instead free up EMS resources to respond to emergencies across DeSoto County.