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No break for sirens on toll parkway

Published: Monday, July 14 2003 12:00 a.m. MDT

OGDEN — Ambulances on emergency runs are now being charged for using the Adams Avenue Parkway.

The road provides quick access to Ogden Regional Medical Center.

Ambulances have always paid when returning from the hospital, and David Powers, South Ogden fire chief, said the July 3 change to require payment when on an emergency isn't surprising.

"They're in the business to make money and need to recover their costs," Powers said.

The ambulances with sirens going still are waved through, but now $1 is being deducted from ambulance-service accounts. Those ambulance services that don't yet have an account will be contacted soon and asked to set one up.

"Just as ambulances get compensated for their service, we'd like to get compensated for our service," said Breon Jacobs, manager of the parkway.

Jacobs said the change in policy means about 35 more vehicles paying each month.

Between 15 and 20 of those come from Morgan, according to Terry Turner, Morgan ambulance supervisor.

He said he understands the need for money, but he finds the idea irritating.

"It's only going to be a few dollars a month. It shouldn't break us, but it shouldn't pay for their road either," he said.

Both agencies said they plan to absorb the cost rather than passing it along to patients.

The decision to charge ambulances disappoints Steve Bateman, CEO of Ogden Regional Medical Center.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to make the case that emergency vehicles transporting members of the public should be allowed through the toll gate on the way in, because there has been public financing for that road through the state Legislature," he said.

Bateman said the hospital pays $70,000 annually to a special improvement district for the road.

Jones said his company took the risk to build the road and give ambulances an option.

"The fact that we've built the toll road here gives them an option for a quick, safe route to the hospital," he said.

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