Lee County EMS may drop non-emergency call fees

If Lee County EMS performs any service for you, they can charge you a $50 fee even if you aren't taken to the hospital

The Lee County Commission is thinking of doing away with a $50 charge for folks who call for an ambulance, but refuse to be taken to the hospital.

In an effort to curb abuse of the system, the Lee County EMS started charging a fee if they came out to your house and performed some kind of service. But did it actually work?

Bob Watkins is director of the Lee County EMS. He says that they started charging what was initially a $100 charge when you called 911 with a non-emergency. He says they had a lot of calls of people wanting them to check their blood pressure, or help them up if they had fallen. The thing is, it didn't stop the calls.

"A lot of people that we've served in the past were upset that we did have a fee and they didn't understand that now when an ambulance is called, no matter who calls, that there is a fee attached, if we go out there and we take care of you, if we provide a service to you, then we charge $50," Said Watkins.

Lee County commissioner Betty Johnson changed that $100 charge to $50 in 2009 because people weren't paying because they were either on a fixed income, or just because of the tough economic times. Now, she thinks they should do away with the fee altogether.

"In two weeks, I believe we'll vote to do away with it," Says Johnson.

Commissioner Dennis Roland still wants the charge. He says non-emergency calls tie up ambulances that could be going to a more serious situation.