KCFD: 125 patients accounted for almost 2,000 calls in year - KCTV5

KCFD: 125 patients accounted for almost 2,000 calls in year

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The Kansas City Fire Department said Tuesday that 125 patients accounted for almost 2,000 ambulance calls in a 12-month period.

Fire officials say they are working to balance the needs of the ill and the need to control costs.

One person alone called 911 about 200 times.

"That impacts the ambulance system to the tune of about $12 million a year," fire Chief Paul Berardi said.

And the department estimates that 99 percent of patients don't pay for their ride in an ambulance.

As an example of the problem, one man called the fire department to say, "I was wondering if you could have them come and check my mother out."

He was then asked about the nature of his mother's condition.

"It's not life-threatening at all," he replied.

And KCFD workers rolled to check her out. Each ambulance carries one paramedic and an emergency medical technician. An ambulance can run up to 20 calls in a day.

"People are calling 911 for what they consider an emergency," said Battalion Chief Russ Grundyson. "It turns out it is probably not an emergency. It doesn't mean that they aren't in need of some kind of medical care because a lot of them have chronic conditions that do need looking at. But they don't require an ambulance."

The ambulance calls have a domino effect on the healthcare system, Berardi said.

"All of the emergency rooms have to deal with the patients we bring them," he said.

While the department will respond to all calls, they urge patients to use 211. It's a free service provided by the United Way of Greater Kansas City to get patients experiencing non-emergency issues in touch with medical services.

Berardi said the more people who use 211 then the more ambulances can be saved for those who really need it.

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