The Town of West Hartford Fire Department (WHFD) is part of an emergency medical services (EMS) system that provides rapid and high-quality EMS. With short response times and multiple paramedics on-duty within the Town at any given time, citizens and visitors should feel confident that they will receive excellent care should they require it.
Currently, there are 3 components of an EMS response within West Hartford.
First, the West Hartford Police Department officers are all trained in medical response. Police officers respond to most EMS related calls in a “first response” capacity, or the ability to respond quickly and take basic actions to assess or treat the patient prior to the arrival of other responders.
Secondly, all West Hartford Fire Department personnel are trained emergency medical responders or technicians (EMTs) and furthermore, a significant portion of staff are licensed paramedics. As cross-trained firefighter/paramedics assigned to fire apparatus, known as “intercept” paramedics, WHFD personnel are geographically located to ensure a rapid response anywhere in the community. When a paramedic is needed in town, the paramedic is delivered to the scene by a fire engine which has additional Firefighter/EMTs to support the paramedic.
Lastly, a private ambulance provider also responds bringing the capability of being able to physically transport the patient to the hospital. In some cases, the private ambulance also brings a paramedic but it is not consistent. In either case, if the patient condition warrants transport to the hospital while receiving the advanced life support level of care (highest level of care available pre-hospitally), the WHFD paramedic will accompany the patient to the hospital aboard the private ambulance. If the advanced life support level of care is not required, the paramedic returns to service and is available to respond to other calls for service, fire-related or EMS. All in all, an EMS call response is a very common occurrence in West Hartford. Most are done very smoothly, professionally, and efficiently.
How billing works
The West Hartford Fire Department complies with all laws, regulations, and conventions surrounding patient billing as well as ensuring that our billing practices are ethical and in-line with industry standards. We do this through a highly experienced contracted EMS billing provider (QuickMed Claims), a company who specializes in EMS billing and who prepares/sends bills on behalf of the WHFD.
From time to time, the department receives questions or concerns from patient’s or patient’s families about bills they have received and/or what tax dollars are used for if the department bills a West Hartford resident for service. In other cases, questions are presented surrounding why a bill from the ambulance company AND from WHFD is sent. In short, tax dollars are used to maintain the personnel, equipment, infrastructure and oversight necessary to have trained cross-trained firefighter/medical providers available to respond 24 hours a day.
If, and when, a patient uses the service and is transported to the hospital, the WHFD seeks reasonable means to recover the costs associated with providing care to that patient or the “end-user” of the EMS service. Utilizing fixed and customary rates promulgated by the Department of Public Health and in accordance with standard ethical billing practices, the WHFD then sends a bill for the services actually provided by West Hartford firefighter/paramedics.
Why two bills?
Occasionally, some patients question why they, or their insurance company, receive two separate bills (one from the ambulance company and one from the WHFD). While from a patient’s perspective they received a single service (having EMS come to the house and transport them to the hospital), there are two distinct services that have actually been rendered and can be considered “billable”.
First, the ambulance company provided an ambulance and transportation to the hospital. Secondly, while accompanying the patient in back of the ambulance, the West Hartford Fire Department paramedic provided advanced medical care to include using supplies and/or expensive diagnostic equipment. Since the West Hartford Fire Department is not currently providing transport service and a commercial provider is, a bill from each agency arrives.
High Quality Care
West Hartford Fire strives to ensure that the care we provide is not only high-quality medicine but that it is delivered in a manner commensurate with how we would want our own family members treated. Our personnel have close medical oversight from both a physician and an emergency medical services coordinator from a local hospital as well as a third party quality assurance/improvement vendor.
Further, our apparatus are staffed by cross-trained, career firefighters and paramedics who are invested and concerned specifically with the needs of the residents and visitors to West Hartford. We are scheduled and deployed in a manner that strives to ensure that we are available when any type of emergency call happens, and we are geographically positioned to respond to our community’s needs quickly.
We hold ourselves to high standards for both medical care and the practices surrounding billing. We hope and strive to ensure that the patient experience is positive both in the field, at the hospital and beyond. However, we understand that after the incident, billing matters can be difficult to understand, frustrating, and/or financially stressful. If you have any questions or concerns, the resources noted below can assist you.
1. Fire Department Operations - Questions, concerns, or comments regarding an overall incident, the care or actions provided specifically by West Hartford Fire Department personnel.
3. Ambulance Billing / Transport Unit - Questions, concerns or comments regarding a bill which came from the American Medical Response, the operations of the ambulance or the actions of ambulance personnel, or if you believe that you are being billed twice for the same service (IE advanced life support).
a. Contact American Medical Response – 203-781-1035
50 South Main Street West Hartford, CT 06107 Website: https://www.WestHartfordCT.gov P. 860-561-7500 | F. 860-561-7400 | H. M-F, 8:30A-4:30P Assessment, Registrars, Tax, and Town Clerk have alternate hours. Please visit each department's web page for specific hours.