The Bella Vista City Council approved a deal to provide ambulance service to rural parts of Benton County on Monday (Mar. 24) night.
The Bella Vista Fire Department will receive $10,000 from the county to lend EMS service to people living outside of city limits this calendar year. That amount will come out of the almost $800,000 approved by Benton County leaders last month to be spent on rural ambulance service.
County Quorum Court members last month approved the spending of the money after voters rejected a proposal to levy a fee to fund EMS service to unincorporated areas.
Meanwhile, Bella Vista city leaders have signed a contract with the county in each of the last three years to provide services to unincorporated parts of the county.
"It is a good working relationship with the county," said Stephen Sims, chief of the Bella Vista Fire Department. "Somebody has to provide the service to those areas, and our service is not cheap. What the county pays us helps offset the cost."
The city arrived at the $10,000 by factoring in the number of runs made, service expenses and financial losses from patients being unable to pay for their medical bills.
"We looked at all of those factors, and based on those numbers, that's what we asked for," Sims said.
Mayor Frank Anderson said the amount of money the county pays them is the smallest out of the seven cities in Benton County. He said that's because the city does not respond to many calls in rural areas.
"We make over 2,500 runs each year and only about 50 of them are outside of city limits," he said. "The $10,000 for Bella Vista is the smallest amount out of all of the departments in any of the cities in the county. We provide less service to the county than anybody else, but it's still a cost."
The Springdale City Council is scheduled to take up a similar measure Tuesday night, as its members get ready to vote on whether to approve a $68,744 deal for local firefighters to provide ambulance service to rural Benton County homes near Springdale.
“I think everybody understands that if they live out in a rural area, they’re going to have somewhat of a delayed response. But they still expect care and service to be provided," said Springdale Fire Chief Mike Irwin. "And this gives them the opportunity to do that. I mean, without that service and without that contract, we can’t continue to go outside our city limits.”