2017 Bennington Election

Cover Image
VOTE YES for Bennington Rescue!
We’re there when you need us. 
Now we need your help.

Support Bennington Rescue – Vote YES on Article 17

When you need an ambulance, Bennington Rescue is there.… from car crashes to heart attacks, over  6,000 times a year.

Unlike many squads, we get no funding from the Town of Bennington. We also don’t get paid for every call. That’s created a $250,000 funding gap.

 

To help, we are asking for town support. Woodford and Shaftsbury already said YES.

On March 7, the Bennington Town Meeting ballot will contain Article 17, asking voters to budget $207,459 for Bennington Rescue.

That’s only $12 a year for every Bennington resident, about 3 cents per day

Help us avoid cutting services in Bennington.

Vote Yes on Article 17 & Article 3!


COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Bennington Banner – January 29, 2017
 
Bennington Banner – February 3, 2017
 
Bennington Banner – February 28, 2017
Bennington Banner – March 3, 2017 
 

 

Why do we need this money now?
Bennington Rescue has been operating at a loss for over 7 years now. We have cut every expense and found new ways to increase our revenues, however we are at a point where the current model we operate under is no longer sustainable.
Why $207,459?
The amount we need annually is closer to $250,000. We have asked our 3 towns, Bennington, Shaftsbury, and Woodford, for per capita (per resident) support of $12.13. We believe that every person deserves coverage and no town should pay more per person for Emergency Coverage than another. The $207,459 is the amount that Bennington would pay at $12.13 per person per year. It is about $1.00 a month, per person to ensure that when you need an ambulance, one will be there.
 
Did you go to the other towns? 
Yes! BOTH Shaftsbury and Woodford have included us in their town budgets.
  • Woodford adopted our per capita funding for the next fiscal year.
  • Shaftsbury has increased our allotment over past years and included us in the town budget as a line item versus an appropriation, so we do not need to get voted on every year.  Additionally, the Select Board and Bennington Rescue have committed to future conversations to move toward the amount we need over the next few years.

Don’t you have a large endowment? Why don’t you use that?

We do have an endowment. It is approximately $3 million dollars. Over the last 7 years, instead of buying the things we need like stretchers, ambulances, and heart monitors…we have used the interest off of that endowment and some of the principal to fund operations. This is not a sustainable model. We want to use the interest off the endowment to fund capital purchases (ambulances, stretchers, stair chairs) and not fund ongoing operations. Our goal is to maintain a one-year operating reserve.  Currently it costs about $2.3 million a year to operate the service.  We have experienced a negative budget for multiple years due to declining insurance reimbursements and increasing costs despite many cost cutting measures, grant applications, and fundraising.  Within the next 5 years, we forecast that endowment will disappear altogether without support from our towns. 

Are you for profit or non-profit?

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered with the IRS (EIN 03-6011528) and State of Vermont.  Any funds raised by the organization are used to support the organization’s mission to serve the community.  

Don’t you do transports? Doesn’t that make money?

Yes, the transport business does help to subsidize our Emergency business. However, insurance reimbursements are not enough for agencies to subsist on.

Why don’t you do more transports to make up the difference?

We would love to, but we are at a crossroads. The demand does not show that adding an additional ambulance would make financial sense. We are currently turning down transports in order to leave an ambulance available for emergency calls. We feel that the public has come to expect an ambulance be available in their time of need.  

Will funding the $207,459 mean you don’t bill insurance or patients anymore?

No.  Insurance reimbursements cover the majority of the operating costs less the amount we are requesting from our communities.  

  • The amount we requested from all 3 towns would cover about 10.8% of the current cost of operating the service.    
  • To fully fund one full-time (24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week) ambulance is about $1,000,000 including necessary staff, benefits, liability insurance, workers compensation, medical supplies, equipment maintenance, fuel, vehicle repairs, etc. 
  • Without funding the full cost of operating the ambulance service ($2.3 million), Bennington Rescue must continue to bill insurance companies and users of the service for required copayments and deductibles which often cannot be waived under insurance regulations (except in cases of hardship)

What do other communities pay?

There is a wide variety around the state, but our closest neighbors get more already than we are asking for. We are asking for $12.13 per resident. The 2015 data, the most recent available, shows what other towns give for their EMS coverage per capita (per resident): 

  • Arlington $14.32
  • Brattleboro $17.41
  • Pownal $14.45 (2016 data)
  • Manchester $29.15
  • Statewide Median $15.08

Why do we sometimes we hear other squads answering calls in Bennington?

Bennington Rescue participates in mutual aid with many organizations.  What this means is that if Bennington Rescue’s ambulances are all on calls we call upon surrounding communities to assist.  Likewise, when these communities need assistance Bennington Rescue responds to assist.  It is neighbor helping neighbor on a larger scale.   Similar agreements exist and are used for many essential public services including fire and law enforcement.

Where is the problem?
About 1 in every 4 calls we respond to is a non-reimbursable call. These could be lift assists, cardiac arrests, opiate overdoses, fire support, etc. that do not result in a transport.  In 2016, there were 912 emergency 9-1-1 calls out of 3,391 where Bennington Rescue received no compensation for providing services in the Town of Bennington.
 
This funding request is to be able to maintain readiness and fund these non-reimbursable responses. We turn down transfer requests because we want to stay available for our towns’ emergency needs. 
 
For the first four decades of service, Bennington Rescue was able to rely on the generosity of the community and a large volunteer corps to support operations.  In the last decade, Bennington Rescue has become a full-time, professional EMS service for our community due to the increasing training requirements and call volume.  We are the second busiest EMS service in the state answering about 6,000 calls a year (about 4,500 emergencies and 1,500 interfacility transports). 
 
Why don’t you bill these people that call 9-1-1 and don’t get transported?
 
Great question! There are multiple reasons.
  1. There is not a system that exists with insurance companies for this type of billing. In other words, it would always be the patient’s responsibility…regardless if they have insurance or not.
  2. There is no recourse. If someone does not pay their bill, what should we do to them? We are an Emergency Response agency, if you call us, we will show up, regardless of your ability to pay or if you have a balance due.
  3. We want people to call 9-1-1 if they are concerned or having an emergency. We don’t want them worrying about a bill. Picture this: A young couple with their first born infant child, the child starts acting inappropriate, but the young couple is worried about getting a bill, so instead of getting help, the baby gets sicker or worse, has a bad outcome.
  4. How would we bill for good samaritans? You are driving down Main Street and see what you think is a car wreck, so you call 9-1-1 and we respond. The person in the car was not injured, and it was not even a wreck but a engine failure. Do we send the bill to the person who did not call us or the caller?

 

Why don’t you use more volunteers to keep costs lower?

We would love to! However, the demands of maintaining a large enough corps of trained, qualified volunteers is difficult. Annually we answer about 6,000 calls which means an average of close to 17 calls EACH day, the majority in the Town of Bennington. When we were previously all volunteer, the call volume was about 1/3 of today’s call volume. 

Training requirements are also rigorous and regulations require the use of licensed personnel on the ambulance. As of today’s minimum training standards:

  • EMT initial training is 200-250 hours, then passing national written and skills testing, followed by 40+ continuing education hours to maintain licensure
  • Advanced EMT is an additional 200-250 hours of training above EMT, national testing, then 50+ continuing education hours to maintain licensure
  • Paramedic is an additional 1,200-1500 hours of training, national testing, then 60+ continuing education hours to maintain licensure

Some of our neighboring communities continue to use volunteers, however they typically operate at the EMT or sometimes AEMT level and have call volumes often less than 1,000 calls a year. We are frequently called to assist these neighboring agencies with their sickest patients.  Our closest neighboring full-time paramedic services also use primarily or all-paid staffing (Manchester, VT, Williamstown, MA, North Adams, MA, Brattleboro, VT). The demands of the community for prompt, professional EMS care require a professional staff in the Bennington area.

 What if the measure does not pass?

We have commitments from the Town of Bennington to begin discussions in April on how to best fund the Rescue Squad going forward. Those discussions shall happen if the ballot passes or fails.
 
I’d love to Vote YES but I’m not registered to vote…
You can register online and all you need is an ID at: https://olvr.sec.state.vt.us/  it takes just a few moments!