|SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County invites the community to learn about potential updates to the emergency medical services (EMS) user fees. Under Sarasota County Fire Department’s all-hazards model for service delivery, SCFD firefighters are dual-certified as firefighters and paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to ensure elite Advanced Life Support (ALS) care to the citizens and visitors of Sarasota County. They operate under standard medical protocols developed by the system medical director. Ninety-three percent of the calls run by SCFD are medical related. To keep up with the growing demand for services, the county continually pursues areas of enhancements, including the level of services provided by our fire department. Therefore, fees are being adjusted for EMS (or ambulance) users and care providers. The adjusted fees have no impacts to Medicare or Medicaid patients. Fire services are funded by a separate funding source. Residents may attend any or all of the following public meetings to learn more about the proposed changes to EMS fees, the methodology used, and provide comments or ask questions. The public meetings are planned to last one hour on the following dates:5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Library, 2801 Newtown Blvd., Sarasota. 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, Jacaranda Public Library, 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd., Venice. 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 13, Gulf Gate Library, 7112 Curtis Ave., Sarasota. EMS fees are one of two funding sources for the emergency medical services in unincorporated areas of Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota. These fees are based on usage of emergency medical services such as treatment or transport, and some fees are charged to other care providers such as hospitals. While the cost to provide EMS has risen over the last 15 years, fees have not changed since 2007. To keep pace with the rising cost of providing EMS, fees will be automatically adjusted annually in accordance with the Sarasota County annual budget process based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, as issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, with inflation. Adjusted fees shall take effect on Oct. 1 of each year in accordance with the Sarasota County fiscal year. The adjusted fees, set to take effect upon approval by the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners (Board), include billing for Basic Life Support Services, Advanced Life Support Services and aero medical transport. New fees incurred to medical care providers include equipment fees and hospital wait times. The proposed fee increases are only to those who use the EMS system such as those being transported to hospitals via ambulance or helicopter, and care providers such as hospitals. Increases in the EMS ad valorem, which is based on property values, is not being recommended. On Sept. 27, a public hearing will be held at the 9 a.m. Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners meeting at Sarasota County Administration, 1660 Ringling Blvd. and the Board will consider adoption of the new rates. Pending Board approval, the new fees would go into effect Oct. 1, 2023. For more information, call 311 or visit www.scgov.net.