A First Responder User Fee, permitted under Section 13916 of the California Health and Safety Code, is cost recovery for first responder paramedic services.
It has become an industry standard to fund the enhanced paramedic level of service provided by engine and truck companies. A number of other fire departments in the Sacramento Area charge this fee also.
Essential Public Service
The use of property taxes was designed to fund fire suppression and basic medical care only. But communities have come to expect paramedic (advanced) level of care and it is considered an essential public service.
The amount of the fee is based on actual personnel, equipment, and materials costs; a public agency cannot profit from a fee. This fee will only be charged to patients who receive medical care from a first responder unit (Engine or Truck).
The amount of the First Responder User Fee is based on the results of a nexus study that was completed by a neutral, third-party consultant. The nexus study identified an hourly rate which included the cost of personnel, apparatus, and equipment, plus costs associated with managing the Fire Department.
Historical response data tells us that Cosumnes Fire Department is committed to medical emergency responses on an average of 20 minutes per response.
Taking 1/3 of the hourly rate (for 20 minutes of an hour), the amount of the Fire Responder User Fee calculates to $153 per engine or truck that responds to the emergency, and is further divided by the number of patients. For example, if there is 1 engine that responds to a car accident with 3 patients, the $153 fee will be evenly divided between the 3 patients.
Because pre-hospital care is considered to be a critical component of the healthcare system, most medical insurances cover the First Responder User Fee.