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FAQs

Q: Are you in network with my insurance company?

A: We do participate with Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare insurance companies. However, CEMS is a quazi-governmental authority, and therefore is not in network with any other insurance companies.

Q: Do you offer monthly payment plans?

A: We do offer monthly payment plans with no interest accruing. Each and every situation can be unique, so please call our office for additional details.

Q: What forms of payment do you accept?

A: We accept check, cash, money order, and all major credit cards.

Q: Can I pay my bill online?

A: Yes, we do offer an online payment portal. Please visit https://cems.acryness.com/ for payment instructions.

Q: I cannot find my personal items. Did I leave them in your ambulance?

A: Our crew members will not keep any personal belongings once your transport is complete. Upon arrival at the hospital, all belongings will be handed over to the patient or accepting nurse.

Q: I need to set up standby coverage for an event. How do I do this?

A: Please call our office, and ask to speak with an Operations supervisor. They will gladly work with you to schedule your event.

Q: Are you a private service?

A: No. Central EMS is based on the public utility model, similar to an electric company. Just as particular electric companies serve certain areas, Central EMS serves all of Washington County with the exception of the Springdale City Limits which are served by the Springdale Fire Department.  Central EMS is a non-profit entity with all revenue going to cover operational costs and improving services and equipment. 

Q: Why did I get a bill? Don’t my taxes pay for the ambulance service?

A: Central EMS receives a subsidy from the taxpayers of Washington County and all of the cities that it serves.  While this subsidy aids in keeping the service operational, it does not cover the costs of individual calls for service.  Like any medical service provider, Central EMS bills private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid for services provided and the remainder of the cost is billed to the individual. 

Q: Do you teach CPR or First Aid?

A: Yes! Central EMS is proud to educate civic organizations, school groups, churches, and the general public in CPR and basic first aid.  Central EMS also partners with the Washington County Department of Emergency Management in teaching Stop the Bleed, a nationally recognized program that teaches bystanders to render immediate bleeding control in an emergency before professional help arrives.   Please contact the Central EMS Training Department for availability and to schedule courses. 

What does Central EMS do?

A: Central EMS is the ambulance service provider for all of Washington County with the exception of the Springdale City Limits.  This means that a Central EMS ambulance will respond for 911 calls requiring medical attention.  Central EMS also provides both emergent and non-emergent transfers.  These transfers include moving patients between facilities such as from the hospital to radiation treatments, returning to long term care facilities from the hospital, and taking patients from one hospital to another for a higher level of care.  These patient transfers may be across town or as far as other cities or states, depending upon the patient’s needs.  Central EMS is PSAP (public safety answering point) for 911 calls in Washington County, a responsibility shared with Fayetteville and Springdale dispatch centers as well as the Washington County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center.  Our dispatch center is responsible for dispatching all of the rural fire department in Washington County.  Central EMS provides ambulances for a variety of functions, making emergency services available on site for athletic events, community gatherings such as concerts and arts and crafts festivals, and graduation ceremonies.  We also do demonstrations for any group with an interest in our services such as scouting organizations, church groups, schools, preschools, and civic organizations.  Central EMS is a training partner with the Fayetteville Fire Department and all of the rural fire departments in Washington County, providing them with continuing education, CPR recertification, and specialized training as requested. 

Q: What is an ambulance capable of doing?

A: Central EMS ambulances carry a vast array of equipment and medications making them, essentially, mobile emergency rooms.  In the case of cardiac arrest, the ambulance crew can perform all of the same procedures that a hospital emergency department would perform within the first hour of care with the exception of imaging (X-Rays, CT scans or MRIs).  Our crews can splint injuries and provide pain management for broken bones, sprains, and strains.  Our paramedics can manage and treat a wide variety of medical conditions, including breathing difficulty, seizures, strokes, chest pain, falls and other injuries, diabetic emergencies, complications associated with cardiac conditions, allergic reactions, and pediatric emergencies.  Depending upon the need, out paramedics can gain IV access, administer life-saving medications and breathing treatments, provide CPR, and even place a tube to the lungs to allow providers to breathe for patients when needed.  An ambulance is more than a fast ride to the hospital and EMS providers are not only able to perform interventions, they are expected to have tasks and treatments performed prior to their arrival at the hospital. 

Q: Why should I call an ambulance?

A: This is a good question with a very complicated answer but to make it as simple as possible, ambulances are intended for any medical condition or situation that presents a threat to life, limb, or sight.  If in doubt, call 911.  Some good guidelines are if a person: 

  • Does not appear to breathing
  • Is choking
  • Is having chest pain, difficulty breathing, feeling weak, feeling numb or is struggling to speak
  • Experiences severe bleeding that you are unable to stop by applying direct pressure on the wound
  • Is struggling to breathe, gasping, or breathing in a strange way, appearing to ‘suck in’ below their rib cage or around their neck and shoulders as they use other muscles to help them to breathe.
  • Is unconscious or unaware of what is going on around them
  • Is having a possible allergic reaction accompanied by difficulty in breathing or collapse
  • If someone has fallen from a height, been hit by something traveling at speed (like a car) or been hit with force and there is a possibility of a spinal injury.
  • If you are worried that a person needs help and that moving them might make them worse
  • Is having trouble speaking (slurring words, using words out of order, or unable to speak at all), has difficulty or is unable to move part of their body, part of their face droops, or has a sudden change in vision

Going to the hospital by ambulance does not guarantee that you will be seen any faster once you arrive.  At the hospital, ambulance patients are triaged by hospital staff in the same way as those arriving in the lobby and it is possible that patients arriving by ambulance could even be sent to the waiting room. 

Some times NOT to call 911 are:

  • A fever with no other symptoms and the patient is awake and alert
  • Running out of any medication. Our crews are not able to prescribe medications and don’t carry the items made available to patients in the pharmacy.
  • You are hungry, hot, or cold.
  • New onset toothaches
  • Unable to sleep

IF IN DOUBT, CALL 911!

Q: What are First Responders?

A: The term “First Responders” has evolved over time.  Initially, a first responder was a person with some basic medical training that generally worked for a fire department and was dispatched when a call for help was received. It was recognized as an entry level of emergency training by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). These people carried very limited equipment but were often the first to arrive and begin assessing the patient and the situation then remained on scene to assist other responders until the patient was transported or the situation was resolved.  Currently, the term “first responder” is widely used and generally refers to anyone in emergency services, including EMTs and paramedics, police, and fire fighters.  NREMT stopped using the term because of the more widespread usage and now refers to this level of training as an “Emergency Medical Responder” or “EMR.” 

In Washington County, Central EMS partnered with our local fire departments to train their members with the goal of getting the best possible help to the people we serve as quickly as possible.  Utilizing the fire departments and their members that are already in the community allows care to be delivered before the ambulance arrives.  We are proud of the men and women, most of whom are volunteers, throughout Washington County that we regularly work with to provide exceptional patient care all hours of the day and night. 

Q: I called an ambulance, why did the fire department show up?

A: Medical emergencies are dynamic and what appears to be minor initially can quickly escalate into a life threatening condition. By having additional trained personnel readily available, more can be done in a quick and efficient manner, and the chances of a positive outcome are improved.

All of Fayetteville Fire Department’s firefighters are trained to the minimum level of EMT or Emergency Medical Technician.  They frequently arrive prior to the ambulance to begin providing care. Because of their training, all of them are qualified to work on the ambulance and it is not unusual to have a firefighter ride along to assist with patient care on the way to the hospital when the patient’s condition warrants the additional help. 

In the county and smaller towns, most firefighters are at least an EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) with several being EMTs.  They are already in the communities that they serve and can frequently arrive prior to the ambulance to initiate patient care and then assist the ambulance crew in any way necessary, including riding along to assist with treatments on the way to the hospital. 

Q: Why did the ambulance crew not initiate CPR or stop CPR on a patient that appeared to need it?

A: Determining that a person is deceased is a critical decision and it is not made carelessly.  Central EMS paramedics are trained to provide treatment when there is even the most remote chance of survival for the patient. Occasionally when they arrive, they find signs and symptoms that may not be obvious to observers. These signs and symptoms indicate that no amount of effort, medication, or other therapies will reverse or stabilize the patient’s condition. CPR is sometimes initiated by bystanders or the first arriving responders and once the paramedic arrives, it may be determined that the patient’s condition was irreversible despite the efforts made. In addition to these situations, it is possible that a full resuscitation attempt will be made but that after specific conditions and guidelines have been met with no positive changes in the patient’s condition, a physician will be contacted and efforts will be discontinued.  The decisions are made based upon evidence based guidelines, according the current best practices, and have been approved by board certified physicians. If efforts are ceased, it is because there is nothing more to be done and all of the treatments available in the hospital have already been attempted with no positive change. 

Q: How do I become a paramedic or EMT?

A: People with a strong desire to help others and to improve their community often seek to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic.  The first step is find an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) class. Check with your local institutions of higher learning to enroll in such a program. Once you have your EMR certification, which takes roughly six months, you can go on to EMT school which takes an additional six months. Having completed EMT training, Central EMS recommends getting experience before going on to paramedic school.  Paramedic education times vary, generally from 18 to 30 months depending upon the program and the perquisites required.  Both state and federal background checks are required.

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