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Posted on: January 22, 2020

Raising awareness about when to call and when not to call 911

During 2019, the City of Xenia Fire Division responded to more than 6,100 calls for Fire and EMS service. Of those calls, 5,008 were for emergency medical service (EMS), making the division’s front line medic crews the busiest in Greene County.

The City of Xenia and City of Xenia Fire Division are working together in an effort to increase awareness about when and when not to call 911. For example, a person should always call 911 in the case of fire, to save a life, to stop a crime that is currently in progress, or if you or someone else is in imminent danger.

Examples of calling 911 to save a life include:

  • Person experiences cardiac arrest or stroke symptoms
  • Person has passed out
  • Person suddenly seems very sick and having a hard time breathing or turning blue
  • Person is experiencing a severe allergic reaction
  • You witness a serious car accident with injuries

Cases in which calling 911 is not appropriate include calling for a situation that is not an emergency, if a crime has already occurred, or if you witness a car accident in which no one is injured. It is also not necessary to call 911 if you or another person can safely drive you to the doctor, Urgent Care, or hospital. If you or your child has a minor fever, minor cut, or burn, emergency personnel ask that you do not call 911.

Other instances in which calling 911 would not be appropriate include:

  • Dogs barking
  • Trespassing
  • Power Outage
  • To ask or report the weather
  • To ask why traffic is backed up
  • To ask why there are public safety vehicles somewhere

It is important to use your judgement as to when to call 911. Public Safety Officials suggest these guidelines, but there are often additional factors. When life is on the line, and seconds matter, do not hesitate to call for help.

The City is also making some significant changes as to how individuals are billed following the use of Emergency Medical Services. A task force initiated by the Xenia City Manager in 2019 investigated the increase in EMS call volume. The findings were surprising. “We had 10 residents who were responsible for 245 EMS calls in a year, which raises some red flags,” said Xenia Fire Chief Ken Riggsby. “Xenia residents shouldn’t subsidize service abusers.” 

On February 1, 2020, the City of Xenia will be making a significant change to its EMS billing policy. In the past, the City has operated under a ‘soft billing policy,’ which means if a person called 911 for emergency services did not pay the bill for the services, the account was not sent to collections. The City would eventually have to write off the unpaid balances. In 2019, the City had to write off more than $1.8 million, “which limits our ability to provide for basic safety service needs in the City,” said City Manager Brent Merriman.

The City has contracted with an EMS billing vendor which will maintain a list of accounts that are delinquent by 90 days or more. Under the City’s new ‘hard billing’ policy, those accounts will be sent to collections. “These billing changes make financial sense for the City and its residents while deterring abuse of our emergency medical service,” said Merriman. Residents who are not able to pay the fee for emergency services have the option to fill out a “Patient Financial Hardship Form.” The form needs to include proof of income and must be sent to the City’s EMS billing vendor at: PO Box 2030, Mount Vernon, OH 43050-7230, within 45 days of the date of service. After the form is received, the account will be placed in ‘pending’ status and a review will be done. 

Patients who have private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid may only be responsible for a copay or portion of the total bill. The City’s new stance aims to be more aggressive in collections in order to discourage those who abuse the system.

Base service fee plus loaded mileage 

  • Basic Life Support (BLS) - $519.17
  • Advanced Life Support 1 (ALS1) - $830.67
  • Advanced Life Support 2 (ALS2) - $1,038.34
  • Loaded mile - $12.98/mile

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