GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Saving Gonzales a lot of money is the goal and the city council says tweaking the front office of the EMS service will achieve it.
Emergency response personnel will be the first to tell you when responding to calls, every second counts.
That is certainly the case for the men and women of the Gonzales Fire Department.
"This ambulance service is at no cost, no out-of-pocket expense to our city residents," said Gonzales Fire Chief Tracey Normand.
Normand has 12 full-time paramedic firefighters as part of the city's ambulance service, but says insurance billing and coding for those services is bogging down his department and keeping the city from getting paid as much as $300,000 a year.
"The program was never designed to be done in-house. We built the foundation, we built the walls and now it's time to furnish the building and to do that we need to outsource our billing," said Normand.
The decision whether to privatize collections being put on the shoulders of members of city council.
"The bottom line is this company will collect a lot more money than we are collecting now," said Councilman Kenneth Matasa.
The most compelling feedback coming from residents like Vernon Daigle, a city taxpayer for over 50 years, who says allowing these firefighters more time to do what they are trained to do benefits everyone.
"I've had to use them once, my wife has used them twice and it's been a phenomenal experience," said Daigle.
As public testimony concludes, a motion to hire the billing and collection company receives a second.
"Any opposition to the motion? Any opposition? Motion carries," said Mayor Barney Arceneaux.
With the council's vote, a one-year agreement to outsource EMS billing and coding goes into effect with the changes expected to be fully operational within the next two months.
A Shreveport-based company, Aero-Medical Collection Services, has the contract and will earn nine percent of the money it collects for the city.