I usually discuss billing or compliance issues, but today in honor of EMS Week I'm going to share a couple of my experiences that explain why I love EMS so much.

I've had a glorious career. I'm very lucky -  I’ve traveled the country, met many interesting people and seen ambulance services of all kinds – big, small, for-profit, hospital-based, fire department based and municipal services. No matter the configuration of the service, the overwhelming theme among billers and providers everywhere I go is compassion.

I once worked on a billing problem for a provider and I had the opportunity to speak to the patient's wife. This woman was determined to get the bill resolved and she was working with us and her insurance company to make that happen. Her motivating force was her description of the night that her husband got sick and EMS came in response to her call. The crew worked very hard to save her husband. There was nothing she could do as they did their job. She was scared and shaking. When they took her husband away in the ambulance, one crewmember turned to her. He saw how she was shivering and shaking. He took off his jacket and put his jacket around her shoulders. After he had wrapped her in the warmth of his coat, he then put his arm around her.

At that moment, there was nothing the provider could do for the patient as the patient was already speeding off in the ambulance. What the EMT did is he took care of the family. His act of kindness gave her such comfort and such hope in that moment that she never forgot what he did for her.

There was another occasion when I was in a billing office when the lead biller took a call from the mother of a child who died. The poor mother had been arguing with insurance to get the ambulance claim paid. The biller patiently listened to the mother as the mother told the story of the child's illness and eventual death. The biller was professional but also soothing and comforting. When the biller hung up the phone she had tears streaming down her cheeks. She announced that she was going to take on the payer and that she would see to it that the payer did right by this mother. It took several months of appeals and hard work on the part of the biller to finally resolve the claim for that mother but she did it.

My last story is very sad but also telling of the commitment of EMS providers. I worked with an ambulance service who had to go to respond to one of their own. This is one of the darkest stories of EMS these days. They found their colleague in his garage; he taken his own life. The ambulance company and the community were devastated by this tragic loss. They beat themselves up wondering why they did not see it coming or why he didn’t seek help that any one of them would have been so very willing to give. They joined forces. They held each other, they cried and then they went into action. They took care of the family. They made sure the house was maintained, the yard was taken care of, funeral arrangements were made and donations were collected. But it didn't stop with the funeral; the care of that family and their home continued for the next couple of years (the family eventually moved to another state). EMS takes care of its own. While they were unable to change what happened to their comrade, they did everything they could as the EMS community to care for his family.

EMS is about compassion. That's why I love what I do. Every day I get to see the compassion that both field providers and billers exhibit to the patients and communities they serve. The world of EMS is not perfect nor easy these days.  As long as people continue to have compassion in their hearts, EMS will survive and thrive.

I am so very glad that all of you are out there. Enjoy the accolades of this week and be safe.

Thank you for what you do.


About the author:  Maggie Adams is the president of EMS Financial Services, with over 20 years’ experience in the ambulance industry as a business owner and reimbursement and compliance consultant. Known for a practical approach and winning presentation style, Maggie has worked with medical transportation providers and billing companies of all kinds to support their billing, auditing, and documentation training efforts. Check out our newest documentation training webinars and billing webinars on our website.Friend EMS Financial on Facebook, or for more info, contact Maggie directly at maggie@ems-financial.com or visit www.ems-financial.com