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Cost of services compared for area ambulance districts

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

After this year’s reassessment, nearly all government entities have changed their tax levy rates. Two of those entities have been the major ambulance districts serving Platte County.

The Southern Platte County Ambulance District, SPCAD, recently dropped its tax levy to $0.08 per $100 assessed valuation and the Northland Regional Ambulance District, NRAD, dropped its levy to $0.4080 per $100 valuation.

The discrepancy in levies for each district comes from the difference in service provided to each district.

Both districts provide 24-hour coverage to their districts, however NRAD operates their own ambulances, while SPCAD has a contract with MAST for ambulance service.

“NRAD hires our own crews and has one ambulance crew at each station,” said Tom Taylor, NRAD director.

NRAD covers a 240 square mile area stretching across northern Platte County and into Clay County and has three places in the district where ambulance crews are stationed. Ambulances are stationed in Platte City, Dearborn, and Smithville.

By comparison, the SPCAD covers only 78 square miles in southern Platte County and has one ambulance generally stationed near the intersection of 45 Hwy. and National Drive in Parkville.

According to Jason White, director of compliance and government regulations for MAST, because MAST also contracts with Kansas City and Riverside there is actually more than one ambulance serving the district.

“We try to look at the ambulance system as a whole so the coverage is dynamic,” said White. “The ambulances will move based on the time of day or when a call comes in, so there is constant coverage.”

For instance, the ambulance in Parkville may not go to a call in Ferrelview. Because it is near the airport, an ambulance from the airport would respond. According to White, Northmoor is covered by ambulances from the general system of Kansas City and not always the one in Parkville.

“If we tried to cover all of the district with only dedicated South Platte ambulances, then the price would go up substantially,” said White. “MAST already covers so much area near the district, it is easier and cheaper to do it this way.”

Another point made by White is how inexpensive the levy is for the SPCAD.

“There is not another ambulance district in Missouri as low as $0.08,” said White. “The lowest I’ve heard of was $0.12 in southern Missouri, but you don’t want to have a heart attack there. Most districts have levies between $0.25 and $.30. It is almost a marginal cost to cover southern Platte County.”

On the other hand, NRAD has three ambulance crews covering its district and does not get help from other districts.

“We just staffed the Dearborn station at the first of this year,” said Taylor. “It has the fewest calls so far for the district.”

SPCAD recently signed a new contract with MAST providing ambulance service for $440,137 annually.

By comparison, the SPCAD has around 21,000 residents and covers 78 square miles, according to Bobby Kincaid, SPCAD board director. NRAD has approximately 18,000 residents and covers 240 square miles, according to Taylor.

The budget for NRAD in 2007 was $1.3 million, which means the district is spending about $5,416 per square mile. SPCAD has a budget of $488,137 for 2008, resulting in the district spend about $6,258 per square mile.

However the cost per resident in NRAD is around $72 for ambulance service and the cost per resident covered by SPCAD is around $21.



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