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Free memberships to CareFlite

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MEGAN GRAY

The Ellis County Press

FERRIS - Residents should be on the lookout within the next few weeks for a letter to hit their mailboxes.

During the Monday, May 10 Emergency Service District #5 meeting, Board Treasurer Steve Salmon discussed in detail everyone who is located in ESD #5, which includes all of Ferris city limits, is now covered with CareFlite free of charge.

"I collected names and addresses from the county of everyone and they can expect to get a letter in the mail telling them about the free year membership soon," said Salmon.

With the generosity from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous and President of CareFlite Jim Swartz picking up the rest of the tab, membership to CareFlite for one year is being provided at no cost to all local tax payers.

"It’s not required, but when the letter is received, if residents can mail those back with the information requested it makes things easier for both parties if an emergency is to arise," said Swartz.

Membership to CareFlite entitles residents to free ambulance and helicopter transportation to a local hospital when 911 is dialed.

"When you are calling dispatch you just need to make sure whomever is making the call tells them you are a member of CareFlite,"said Swartz.

The bill from your call is never sent to you if you’re already insured. After the insurance pays their part, the rest of the bill is sent to CareFlite according to VP of Clinical and Quality Services Jan Cody.

"If you are uninsured, you only pay 50 percent of the cost."

Medicaid is exempt in being covered because of state law, Medicaid users are already covered according to Swartz.

"The key part in providing this free coverage is that we are really wanting to reach out to the elderly."

"Many times, people hesitate to call for help when they need it because they fear they can’t afford it," said Swartz.

As of now, Ferris EMS has someone on call at Fire Station No. 2 from 8 a.m. till midnight. CareFlite has someone there 24/7.

Even if you are injured in a car accident outside the city limits, you are still covered.

"CareFlite covers all the North Texas Metroplex and even parts of Southern Oklamhoma," said Swartz.

There has been discussion amongst the city as to why CareFlite isn’t taking over the cities EMS services.

"The confusion on this topic is coming from a general misunderstanding of the agreement that Careflite entered into with the ESD," said City Manager Eric Strong.

"Careflite and the ESD did enter an agreement that enrolls everyone in the ESD (Ferris residents included) in their membership program.  However, this does not obligate Careflite to pick anyone up. 

They are not responsible for running calls within the city limits.  Not only are they not responsible for it, they won’t take it over for us on a full-time basis.

We’ve asked them about this and in order for them to start handling all of our EMS calls, they are asking us for an additional $125,000 per year (this is on top of what they are getting from the ESD)."

Swartz explained the situation needed to be handled through city leaders but their services on average are 25 percent cheaper.

Currently, the city is budgeted roughly $210,000 for EMS according to Strong.

"Johnson county uses us but keeps their own ambulances retained in case of a mass casualty or a need for it arises and this is something we would like to look at with Ferris," said Swartz.

"Their membership program simply states that if they are on a call, and the person they pick up happens to be a member of Careflite, then the patient receives a benefit. 

They enroll people from all over in their membership program all the time, but that doesn’t mean that they are telling them that they will be the ones to respond in the event of an emergency," said Strong.

The free membership to Careflite runs for a year.


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