The Fire Department's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division responds to emergency calls involving injury or illness. Eight EMS district officers supervise daily EMS operations.
of calls received are medical calls that require EMS
career and volunteer advanced life support medic units
career personnel are trained in EMS
Medic units (often called ambulances) are housed in fire stations alongside fire apparatus, and all career and many volunteer personnel are trained in both EMS and fire suppression. All career fire apparatus are equipped with automatic external defibrillators, used to treat sudden cardiac arrest victims.
Baltimore County is served by a state-of-the-art emergency medical and trauma care system. This system features:
- Advanced life support engine companies
- Emergency medical technicians and paramedics on all medic units
- Maryland State Police Medevac helicopters
- The world-renowned Shock Trauma Center at University of Maryland Hospital
Engines vs. Medic Units
Occasionally a fire engine, ladder truck or utility vehicle will respond when you call 911 for medical assistance. All career fire units and many volunteer engines carry trained EMS personnel. Dispatchers send an engine, truck or utility unit if one of these is closer to the medical emergency than an available medic unit; the goal is to reach the patient as quickly as possible. Also, dispatchers may send an engine to support medic crews on high-priority medical calls.
Career vs. Volunteer
Dispatchers send career and volunteer personnel based on proximity to the emergency and the type of equipment required. At the incident scene, career and volunteer personnel follow the same chain of command and operating procedures. Volunteers who actively respond to fire and EMS calls must have the same basic training as their career counterparts.
Baltimore County EMS recoups patient transport costs from private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid. Baltimore County partners with Change Healthcare, a national management company, to handle billing and collection.
Baltimore County residents are not responsible for paying for ambulance service. Insurance carriers, Medicare and Medicaid—not residents—are billed.
County residents without insurance, County residents with insurance co-pays and County residents whose insurers refuse to pay for transport are not responsible for ambulance transport fees; their local tax dollars are considered payment toward the fee.
The fees are levied only when a patient is transported by medic unit or ambulance to a hospital; EMS calls that do not involve transport do not involve a fee. Patients who refuse transport sign a form documenting their refusal.
All patients are transported regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.
No payment is collected at the time of transport. EMS personnel do not seek patient insurance information. They may request a patient's demographic information, such as date of birth and address. EMS personnel obtain authorization to bill the patient’s insurer along with permission to transport. After transport, the contractor—Change Healthcare—works with the hospital to obtain the patient’s information.
Non-county residents who use Baltimore County EMS transport are billed for transport fees not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. The County seeks collection of these fees.
Change Healthcare customer service representatives handle questions or concerns about billing and insurance related to medical transport. Call Change Healthcare's customer service at 1-855-626-9660 if you have billing questions.
The fees are $700 or $750 per transport, depending upon the level of care required. In addition, private health insurers, Medicare and Medicaid are billed $10 per mile of transport.
Baltimore County residents should not receive any invoices from Change Healthcare or from Baltimore County Government. They may receive a "Request for Information;" this is a request from the billing company for insurance information or a patient signature.
If you are a County resident and you receive an invoice by mistake, call 1-855-626-9660. This customer service number is provided on all Change Healthcare documents.
If you are not a Baltimore County resident, if you have a copay or your insurance does not pay for ambulance transport you will receive a bill from Change Heathcare. Payment will be made to Change Healthcare, not to Baltimore County Government.
Revenue from medical transport billing goes into Baltimore County Government's general fund and supports a variety of services.
Baltimore County’s volunteer fire companies—especially the companies that provide medical service—benefit from the transport fees. The Baltimore County Volunteer Firefighter's Association and the Baltimore County Fire Department plan to develop a revenue sharing program in which transport fee funds assist companies that provide medical service cover reasonable EMS-related operating expenses. The fees benefit the companies that do not provide EMS service by freeing up other funds for maintenance, equipment, fuel and training.