Tag: Acadian Ambulance

July 22 | EMS Advocacy Facebook Livestream


July 22, 2020 | 14:00 ET | Register Now for a Reminder!

Join AAA advocacy experts for a fast-paced informal dialogue on Facebook Live! Learn first-hand about EMS advocacy initiatives in the face of COVID-19.

Register to receive a reminder email one hour in advance of the live broadcast on the American Ambulance Association Facebook page!

Panelists

  • Randy Strozyk, Secretary, AAA
  • Jamie Pafford-Gresham, Chair, AAA Government Affairs Committee
  • Asbel Montes, Chair, AAA Payment Reform Committee
  • Rob Lawrence, Chair, AAA Communications Committee
  • Maria Bianchi, AAA Executive Director
  • Tristan North, AAA SVP of Government Affairs
  • Mercury Group Public Affairs

Register Now

Washington Examiner | Ambulance Services Crushed by Virus Response

Ambulance services getting crushed by being roped into virus response
By David Hogberg

Ambulance companies are suffering major financial losses in the coronavirus pandemic because of an interaction between state government regulations and Medicare payment policy.

In an effort to combat hospital overcrowding during the coronavirus pandemic, states have required ambulances to treat patients at home if possible. Yet Medicare only reimburses ambulances when they transport a patient to a hospital, and most private insurers follow Medicare’s lead. This Catch-22 has cut deeply into ambulance companies’ revenues during the pandemic.

Continue reading this article that features interviews with AAA members Empress EMS, Acadian Ambulance, and the California Ambulance Association!

EMS Week Featured Service | Acadian Ambulance

Acadian Ambulance
Lafayette, Louisiana
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Meet Acadian Ambulance

Acadian Ambulance Service began operations in September 1971 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Over the past 49 years, our company has expanded to include health, safety, security and transportation services. Acadian Companies, which comprises Acadian Ambulance, Acadian Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, Acadian Total Security, National EMS Academy and Safety Management Systems, has grown to employ nearly 5,000 employees across the United States.

Acadian Ambulance currently operates in more than 70 parishes and counties spanning Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, providing service to more than 21 million residents and covering almost 60,000 square miles. Our medical fleet includes more than 600 ground ambulances, vans, ambulance buses, helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes. We provide emergency and non-emergency, helicopter and fixed-wing medical transport, mobile healthcare, community event support and contracted event standbys at venues including the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Minute Maid Park in Houston and FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Acadian Ambulance COVID-19 Response

When COVID-19 cases began rising in Louisiana, Acadian Ambulance was immediately on the front lines, transporting suspected patients and working to protect employees from exposure. We have worked hand-in-hand with other EMS agencies and first responders throughout our service area, particularly in hard-hit New Orleans.

Under contracts with the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and Louisiana Ambulance Alliance, we staffed surge units from our other Louisiana regions that were sent to New Orleans. Most have since been deactivated.

We have also sent strike teams with medics from our Texas operations to assist in New Orleans.

We have assisted with operations at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans since it opened in early April as a temporary hospital for less severe COVID-19 patients.

In addition to these specialized efforts, our medics continue to run calls 24/7, whether related to COVID-19 or not. They continue to follow protocols on proper PPE and patient interaction in order to limit exposure.

Our safety director and operations management worked hard to procure half-face respirators for our front line medics so that they could feel a stronger sense of security against exposure.

Our medical directors, Dr. Chuck Burnell and Dr. Emily Kidd, along with our safety director, Neil Davis, have recorded near-daily update videos that are shared with our employees. The topics range from PPE protocol, operations updates, safety directives and latest statistics to messages of encouragement and support.

Our Chairman & CEO, Richard Zuschlag, has also recorded video messages for employees and the public to share his gratitude and support.

We have been utilizing our social media channels to share important messages for the community in staying protected, along with spotlighting our front line medics and thanking the numerous businesses and individuals who have graciously donated PPE and food to our company and displayed their support in other ways.

The Acadian Ambulance Leadership Perspective

“Our entire team has been doing outstanding work since this pandemic started. Our medics are facing daunting challenges on the front line, our support teams have stepped up so that our medics can fulfill their mission and our Safety Management Systems teams have shifted their skill sets to provide essential screening and disinfection verification services to a variety of industries. Everyone at Acadian is playing a part in what will be another cornerstone in our history. This time has truly shown how we embody One Team, One Mission.”

Richard Zuschlag, Acadian Ambulance Chairman & CEO

Frontline Voices from Acadian Ambulance

“EMS is a lifesaving link between people who need medical care, but are unable to get to a hospital, and the physicians and hospitals themselves. EMS allows highly trained paramedics and EMTs to bring ER- and ICU-level care to people wherever they may be, and continue that high-quality care en route to the hospital, which greatly increases chances for survival and improves patient outcomes.”
Adam Olivier,  Acadian Ambulance Operations Coordinator

“My definition of success is to constantly advance and to never stop learning about what I’m invested in. That mindset carries over to EMS and its importance in community awareness. When emergency providers are able to educate and care for members of their community, those small moments can help individuals improve their personal health. Continue to progress as an EMS provider, improving the lives of those around you, and that definition of success will grow in your community, one patient at a time.”

Liz Hill, Acadian Ambulance EMT

“Our medics are constantly involved in the hardest moments of life. In those moments, they have the opportunity to bring relief and comfort to painful situations, and every day, that’s exactly what they do. ”

Lauren Anzalone Ramos, Acadian Ambulance High School Outreach Coordinator

How Acadian Ambulance Celebrates EMS Week

We will be spotlighting our medics on social media and honoring EMS professionals across the nation.

The Louisiana Bureau of EMS has launched a White Ribbon Campaign to coincide with EMS Week. We will help promote the campaign and encourage all Acadian employees to participate. The campaign calls for people to place a white ribbon on their mailbox, front door, vehicle window or anywhere visible to show support of EMS professionals.

The Bureau of EMS has also developed yard signs featuring a “Healthcare Hero Lives Here” that we will be distributing among our medic staff.

PEW Stateline | Many Health Providers on Brink of Insolvency

Thank you to PEW Stateline journalist Michael Ollove for taking the time to learn about EMS economics from AAA Payment Reform Chair Asbel Montes and Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin President Chris Anderson.

Stay-at-home orders have paused many activities that resulted in emergency calls, such as traffic accidents and shootings, said Chris Anderson, director of operations for Bell Ambulance in Wisconsin. As for non-emergency transportation, many people want to avoid health facilities now if they can, he said.

Asbel Montes, a senior vice president with Acadian Companies, a Louisiana-based firm operating 500 ambulances in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, said emergency calls have dropped by 30% and non-emergency calls by 70%.

Read the full article►

NBC Nightly News | EMS workers speak out from front lines of coronavirus crisis

On April 15, NBC nightly news profiled the front line COVID-19 response in a segment featuring members Acadian Ambulance, Empress EMS, Medstar (MI), and the Fire Department of New York. Thank you to Lester Holt and Stephanie Gosk for sharing mobile healthcare’s value and perspective during the pandemic.


Emergency responders, used to trauma and danger, say it’s impossible to get used to their new reality during the coronavirus pandemic. “You’re coming to work to deal with death all day,” one New York EMS worker says.

Webinar Materials & FAQ: Claims Guidance for COVID-19

Webinar: How to Best Document and Track Claims Related to COVID-19

Recorded: Thursday, March 26th | 12:00pm Eastern
View On-Demand Recording
View PPT Slides

FAQ of unanswered webinar questions:

  1. Is the idea that the ET3 model will be pushed to all ambulance companies or only previously selected participants?

The request into CMS and leadership during the declared public health emergency is to allow all ambulance providers and suppliers to transport patients or treat in place based upon the concepts outlined in the Emergency Triage, Treatment and Transport model as defined by CMMI’s release last year.

  1. While we wait for finalization of the ET3 protocols, will billing be allowed retroactively?

If CMS follows other waiver provisions that they have been approving, then we would expect the waiver to be retroactive. However, that will be clearly identified when and if the final waiver is approved.

  1. Asbel spoke about Telehealth medical necessity, which we assume applies to the QHP.  Neither CMS nor the MAC has provided any guidance regarding MN guidance for the ambulance that is facilitating the telehealth.  CMS ET3 FAQ provides a non-answer. Can you advise?

You will need to understand the nuances around telehealth and what Medicare requires as a covered benefit for telehealth. Please see attached resources below

  1. Do we need to file an application for TIP?

That is unclear at this time. The AAA has been advocating for national policy that would not include an application process during this public health emergency. If CMS accepts our proposal, then we do not expect an application process.

  1. Will Medicare pay for signs and symptoms such as a cough that is not on our LCD list?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established new codes related to COVID-19.  They are available in this link:  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/icd/ICD-10-CM-Official-Coding-Gudance-Interim-Advice-coronavirus-feb-20-2020.pdf

  1. How can we bill for lift assists and basically public assist? For example, we are seeing increased med alarm pulls because in some of the senior assisted living or independent with aide service, the aide staff is not showing up or is late.  We are getting 911 calls for help getting dressed, move me from my chair to bed at night, etc. (We have one building with many PACE participants, so many Medicare primary)

Yes, you can bill for any response. I am assuming you are looking to understand who the payer source will be for those responses. Currently, Medicare does not pay for an ambulance response without a subsequent medically necessary transport to a covered destination.

The lift assist and public assist responses may be billed to whoever the caller source is if there is no state or local law that prohibits this practice.

Suggestion: You could work with your state legislature or local governing body to codify in statute or local ordinance the responsibility for these false alarms, or public assists are the responsibility of the requestor and invoke penalties if not paid. There are many local jurisdictions that codify this in law with prescribed penalties to try and deter this abuse.

  1. How does this impact the patients who typically are transported by sedan cars or gurney vans to dialysis, but now are confirmed COVID-19 or suspected and still need to be transported to Dialysis? Gurney Van or Sedan cars don’t have the isolation precautions to transfer those patients. Can those patients now be transported by BLS Non-Emergency ambulance?

Medicare has not changed its requirements for transporting beneficiaries to/from dialysis facilities.  We understand that some MACs recognize as a primary reason for ambulance transport patients who have a communicable disease or hazardous material exposure and must be isolated from the public or whose medical condition must be protected from public exposure.  Some MACs do not view this condition as a primary reason to transport a patient, however.  The AAA is seeking clarification from CMS to try to align MACs around the view that patients who require isolation because of a communicable disease or hazardous material exposure can be transported by ground ambulances.

  1. There is already an “I” origin/destination modifier for the site of transfer between modes of ambulances. Wouldn’t this new “I” confuse things?

Great question. Yes. We will wait and see final direction from CMS if they approved transport to a COVID-19 testing site.

  1. Does the use of the “I” modifier include a site such as a shelter that might be set up for COVID-19 patients? Specifically I am referring to a site that maybe the state or local authority has set up and is not directly tied to a hospital.

Yes, that is the waiver that we are seeking from CMS. They could recommend a different modifier. It should be noted that States do have the authority to request a waiver to allow for this, as well. You do not have to wait on the CMS.

  1. The ICD 10 codes related to COVID19 are not effective until April 1st. Once effective, can they be used on a run that occurred before that date?

On February 20, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on the ICD-10 codes that should be used. You can find this guidance at the following site:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/icd/ICD-10-CM-Official-Coding-Gudance-Interim-Advice-coronavirus-feb-20-2020.pdf

  1. Is there anything on the end user if ambulance personnel need to document differently for billing purposes?

Best practices would be to provide instruction or edits within your PCR that identifies the following: (1) COVID-19 suspected or positive patient; (2) PPE equipment used (not just a general statement); and (3) any other pertinent information related to the inability to sign any forms due to local or state mandates.

Due to circumstances surrounding this national emergency that we have not experienced before, things are constantly changing. Documentation will be the CRITICAL in helping to obtain additional federal, state and local waivers. Accurate and reliable documentation will be key in building the case retrospectively.

  1. Have there been any signature requirement changes due to COVID 19?

CMS has provided the following guidance:

“At this time, suppliers should do their best to obtain proof of delivery and should notate the file that the beneficiary declined to sign.  Where FedEx or similar delivery services have altered their delivery protocols (such as leaving packages at the home without signatures) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS will consider the revised protocols if conducting review absent suspicion of deliberate gaming or attempted fraud.  Suppliers should continue providing the necessary supplies and document the proof of delivery to the best of their ability (such as a picture of the delivery and/or notation in the file). “

  1. Do any of the waivers apply to the patient signature requirement? Are there links or support for how to learn about 1135? How do we know what our state has done regarding 1135 waiver? How do we work with our state to expand services via 1135 waiver?

The link below is a great tutorial on how 1135 waivers work and tracking existing waivers.

https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/medicaid-emergency-authority-tracker-approved-state-actions-to-address-covid-19/

The health agency in your state would be your POC to engage regarding ambulance requests for expanded services via the 1135 waiver.

  1. Is there a specific documentation on the HCFA form’s for using the 1135 waiver?

Each payer is issuing specific claims guidance on how to bill for waived services through the 1135. You will need to check with your state Department of Insurance or Medicaid Agency. They should have resources online to assist you with identifying what specific documentation is needed.

  1. Has there been any discussion in the delay of Data Collection?

No.  At this point the program remains underway.  The first set of services required to submit were notified at the end of 2019.  CMS continues to develop the tool it will use to collect the data, which we expect to see later this summer or early fall.  However, if the pandemic continues, we will engage with CMS to determine how they view data collection.

If you have an additional questions, please email the AAA at info@ambulance.org

Presenters:

Asbel Montes
Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, Acadian Ambulance Service

Asbel has been a member of the American Ambulance Association (AAA) for eight years and has served on its Board of Directors; he currently is Chair of the Payment Reform Steering Committee. Asbel also sits on the board of the Louisiana Ambulance Alliance. He is a respected thought leader on reimbursement initiatives within the industry and is a requested speaker at many conferences. He has also been asked to testify as an expert witness before federal and state health committees regarding ambulance reimbursement.

Asbel began his employment with Acadian in May 2009. He oversees Acadian’s revenue cycle management, contract management, business office process improvements, and government relations for state and federal reimbursement policy initiatives.

In 1999, Asbel began working for an ambulance billing and consulting firm. After three years, he decided to work for a private, non‐emergency ambulance service. Since then, he has provided leadership in revenue cycle management to four ambulance agencies located throughout the Southeast.

Asbel pursued his education the non‐traditional way by attending college online while maintaining a fulltime job. He received an associate’s degree in accounting in 2007 and graduated in November 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Asbel is married to Stephenie Haney‐Montes. He has one daughter and resides in Carencro, LA.

Kathy Lester, Esq.
Principal, Lester Health Law

Kathleen Lester provides legal and strategic advice on legislative and regulatory matters involving Medicare and Medicaid coverage and reimbursement, quality measurement (including valuebased purchasing programs), federal health care funding, health information technology, and medical and Internet privacy — including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, other federal and state privacy laws.

Ms. Lester practices at the intersection of health care law and public policy. She focuses her practice on finding solutions to her clients’ problems by assisting them with compliance programs and by seeking legislative or regulatory modifications. She has worked with health care providers and suppliers to modernize their payment structures within the Medicare program. She also assists non-profit organizations navigate the complex maze of federal funding and the authorization process for public health programs. She has worked with manufacturers to ensure coverage and appropriate reimbursement. She helps clients identify and resolve issues that arise from creating, collecting, maintaining, using, and disclosing personal health information. She has been deeply involved in measure development, as well as the creation and implementation of value-based purchasing programs in the Medicare program.

Ms. Lester has served a wide variety of health care providers, including physicians, dialysis facilities, hospitals, long-term care providers, home respiratory suppliers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, device companies, and patient organizations. She also has assisted with the formation and growth of industry-wide coalitions. Ms. Lester has experience in all three branches of the federal government.

Ms. Lester served as a privacy consultant in the Office of General Counsel to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she finalized the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Ms. Lester also served as law clerk to the Honorable Michael S. Kanne, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and worked for Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN). Prior to opening her own firm, Ms. Lester was a partner in the health care group at Patton Boggs LLP.

During her time at Johns Hopkins, Ms. Lester served on a number of research and review boards, including the Human Genome Project’s Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Working Group. She has an undergraduate degree in biology with an emphasis on microbiology and genetic research.

Ms. Lester received her J.D. from Georgetown University (cum laude), her M.P.H. from The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and her B.A. from DePauw University (magna cum laude). She is a member of the District of Columbia, Indiana, and Maryland bars and is admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

40 Under 40: Corey Chapman (Acadian Ambulance Service – Lafayette, LA)

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.
____

Corey Chapman
Director of Revenue Cycle
Acadian Ambulance Service
Lafayette, LA

____

Nominated by: Rachel Harracksingh

____

Biography:

Corey Chapman has worked at Acadian Ambulance Service since 2013. Corey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana Lafayette. In addition to his work at Acadian, Corey is also a Board Member for the American Cancer Society of Louisiana and the Junior Achievement of Louisiana. Coey is passionate about patient care and moving the EMS industry forward.
____

Reason for Nomination:

Corey Chapman is passionate about process re-engineering and improvements. During his tenure at Acadian Ambulance Service over the past six years, Corey has provided project management leadership around contracts, membership and corporate compliance initiatives. Corey was promoted in January to Director of Revenue Cycle where he leads a team of approximately 200 employees.

____

View all of the 2020 Mobile Healthcare 40 Under 40 Honorees

2019 AMBY Award Winners Announced

The American Ambulance Association is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 AMBY Awards. The AMBYs highlight excellence in EMS and the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that epitomize  mobile healthcare. The mission of the awards is to showcase creativity and innovation in the ambulance industry by fostering a culture of collaboration, cooperation, and a passion for excellence in patient care. This year’s awards will be presented at the Annual Conference & Trade Show Awards Reception on November 5 in Nashville. Please join us in congratulating our 2019 winners!

Clinical Outcome Program

Medic Ambulance Service Inc.
CPR Initiative

Community Impact Program

Advanced Medical Transport
CPR Race to the Top

American Medical Response (Manchester/Nashua, NH)
Safe Station Project

Sunstar Paramedics
Health & Safety Fair

Employee Programs

American Medical Response (Buffalo, NY)
Recruitment/Training Program

Northstar EMS, Inc
Medical Director Engagement Through Technology

Public Relations Campaign

Acadian Ambulance Service
Hometown Hero Initiative

Mecklenburg EMS Agency
Bystander CPR Initiative With Pulsepoint

Once again, join us in celebrating the 2019 winners! Learn more about the AMBYs.

Debut of Unit 68 Film Ft. Acadian Ambulance

Unit 68 premiered worldwide on YouTube today. The short film was written and directed by David K. Jarreau, a Paramedic with Acadian Ambulance Service, and features an Acadian ambulance. The film depicts a young boy, Mack, and his experience with a mysterious ambulance that forever changes his life. The film is loosely based on real-life…

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Hurricane Harvey: JEMS-AAA Adopt-An-EMS-Family Program

JEMSEMS professionals selflessly serve their communities each day. But even the most capable healthcare providers sometimes need a little help themselves, especially in the face of a natural disaster. AAA has partnered with JEMS to assist EMS families severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana via the “Adopt-an-EMS-Family” program.

Established in August 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the program is empowers EMS agencies, their staff, and other participants to provide direct, personal support to EMTs, Paramedics, Dispatchers, and other EMS professionals who were significantly affected by a large-scale disaster.

We invite your ambulance service to join us in adopting the families of EMS providers recovering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Sign up below to be assigned a family or group of families to assist in their time of need. Thank you in advance for your support and participation.

AAA Members on Capitol Hill

This week, AAA members were once again on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress. AAA Government Affairs Committee Chair, Jamie Pafford-Gresham of Pafford EMS, met with entire Congressional Arkansas delegation. While on the Hill, Jamie also met with members from Oklahoma and Mississippi. AAA Board Member, Kim Godden (Superior Air-Ground Ambulance), Payment Reform Committee Chair, Asbel Montes (Acadian Ambulance Service), and AMR VP Federal Reimbursement & Regulatory Affairs, Deb Gault were also on the Hill for meetings this week. Collectively the group met with over twenty Congressional offices this week. Thank you to all of our members for their hard work fighting for permanent Medicare relief. We appreciate you taking the time to visit Washington and meet with your representatives.

Pafford EMS CEO, Jamie Pafford-Gresham, and Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas

Pafford EMS CEO, Jamie Pafford-Gresham, and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas

Have you met recently with a Member of Congress? Are you interested in getting involved with the AAA’s advocacy efforts? If so, email Aidan Camas at acamas@ambulance.org!

Payment Reform Chairs Pen Op-Ed in JEMS

Ambulance payment reform is critical to the future of emergency medical services across our country. Don’t miss the op-ed in JEMS by Asbel Montes and Jimmy Johnson, chair and vice chair of AAA’s Payment Reform Committee.

Before the industry as a whole can embrace mobile integrated health, community paramedicine, and value-based purchasing, the industry must contend with standardizing cost data and submitting it to the federal government. We must also fight to ensure that payment is linked to the health care services provided and less to the act of transporting patients.

Read the full op-ed►

Ready to add your voice to the conversation? Join fellow members at AAA’s Payment Reform Town Hall at EMS Today in Salt Lake City. Learn more►

Acadian’s Asbel Montes on Ambulance Payment Reform

“EMS is instrumental to the healthcare fabric of our country. As the healthcare industry continues to innovate, it is imperative to recognize the value that EMS brings to the pre- and post-hospital environment. EMS providers are the only gatekeepers to the healthcare system in many communities.

73% of all ambulance suppliers credentialed with Medicare bill the program less than 1,000 transports per year. It is imperative that any cost data collection system reporting requirements consider this to ensure the reliability of the data and the administrative burden to ambulance providers and suppliers.”

Asbel Montes
Vice President of Governmental Relations & Reimbursement, Acadian Ambulance
Co-Chair, American Ambulance Association Payment Reform Committee

Maximizing VA Reimbursements on Emergency Conditions

Asbel Montes, AAA Payment Reform Committee co-chair and all-around reimbursement expert, recently developed some great quick tips on billing the US Department of Veterans Affairs for ambulance services.

Do you have a process in place to identify when a transported individual is a veteran being carried to a non-VA facility? In an emergency condition, it may prove very beneficial for you to have a consistent process within your billing department to ensure that you can identify these patients in order to maximize reimbursement, while also avoid billing the patient inappropriately… READ MORE►

downloadRead Asbel’s full article over on www.reimbursementanswers.com, or learn more in person at the upcoming June 9 AAA Regional Workshop in the San Francisco area!

Spotlight: Asbel Montes

Asbel Montes
Vice President, Acadian Ambulance Service, Inc
Lafayette, Louisiana, USA
Follow Asbel on Twitter at @asbelmontes
Asbel’s LinkedIn

Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in San Bernardino, CA and lived there until I was five. My dad was in the Air Force. When I was five, he felt the call to become a pastor in North Carolina and was discharged from the Air Force.

I am married and have one daughter who is fifteen years old.

I have played the piano since I was eight years old and used to be the music minister for my dad and my brother-in-law, until my career became too demanding to do both.

I am an avid read of non-fiction and fiction. I enjoy a great political or legal thriller.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

I started in the ambulance industry at the age of 21. I answered an ad in the newspaper for an account manager position for an ambulance billing company in North Carolina. I have been in the revenue cycle space for almost 19 years.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the people I work with at Acadian. Acadian Ambulance Service has a culture where the employees truly care about the success of the company. This culture is prevalent throughout the organization from senior leadership to front-line staff.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

My biggest challenge is the federal and state regulations that continue to negatively impact our industry from Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. This has a downstream effect on increasing our cost per claim due to the excessive administrative burden, as well as reducing our revenue per transport.

What is your typical day like?

My day starts at 4:45 am. I like to meditate and read for about an hour before getting to the office by 7:00 am. My day is packed with meetings and typically culminates with me leaving the office around 6:00 pm.

I travel extensively between Austin, Baton Rouge, and Washington, DC.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?

The American Ambulance Association has been beneficial in helping to create a united front in the ambulance industry for important initiatives on Capitol hill.

The Acadian Effect

By Desiree LaFont, Education & Events Director, American Ambulance Association

October 2015

In a previous life I worked for a hospitality-related association. Within that industry there was something known as the “Gaylord Effect”—when Gaylord Hotels would open a property in a city, all of the other businesses in the area, including other hotel brands, benefitted. High standards, a sterling reputation, and the ultimate in customer service meant Gaylord booked convention and leisure business on a scale few could rival. Everyone from the local cab drivers to the bartenders to the surrounding hotels profited from the huge influx of travelers. Where once feared as the luxury brand that would crush the competition, they were soon seen as a desirable ally. So fast forward a few years, and I have a new life working for the American Ambulance Association (AAA), but I often think about the Gaylord brand and their ability to change a city with their commitment to their customers. If you are wondering what any of this has to do with ambulance services, I’m about to get to that.

On a recent trip to Louisiana to document the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the role AAA members had in the recovery, the AAA’s Director of Membership, Amanda Riordan, and I had the opportunity to visit Acadian Ambulance. Armed with a local videographer, a short list of questions, and a crippling doubt in our ability to capture what is arguably the most important private EMS story in recent history, we arrived at Acadian’s Air Med Station in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Lafayette Headquarters

Our first interview was with Marc Creswell, Acadian’s Air Med Operations Manager. Marc’s story is incredible for a number of reasons, and I won’t attempt to retell all of it here, but I will tell you Marc is the kind of guy that could have inspired the phrase, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is the guy you want in your foxhole. And to be honest, we could have completed our interview with Marc, packed up, and had more than enough material to tell a great story about Acadian and Katrina, but Acadian was just getting started.

We spent the remainder of the day interviewing Dee Dee Sewell, their Critical Support Intervention Specialist; Clay Henry, Acadian’s Vice President of Operations, Communications Center; Blane Comeaux, President of Acadian Total Security; and Chairman and CEO Richard Zuschlag. Everyone, including Mr. Zuschlag, gave us more time then we could have hoped for and held nothing back. They shared a great many operational details, but always through the lens of the story of the people behind all those unseen efforts and rescues.

Downtown New Orleans

Dee Dee at work in Lafayette
Dee Dee at work in Lafayette

The next day we visited downtown New Orleans to meet with Steven Kuiper, Regional Vice President for Acadian. Within minutes, I felt like I was hearing the story of Katrina for the first time. Steven shared facts, but, once again, it was wrapped in the story of the people around him—the suffering and the heroism he personally observed on the ground.

And, then came the big finish; Janie Fuller, Paramedic Field Supervisor and lifelong resident of St. Bernard Parish. Janie accompanied us to the Mayor’s Office to interview Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin and New Orleans Director of EMS Dr. Jeffrey Elder. She then gave us the insiders’ tour of her parish and showed us exactly where the levees were breached. Her entire hometown was under eighteen feet of water in 15 minutes, but by nightfall Janie had commandeered an airboat and was taking a cardiac patient to I-10 and Causeway for evacuation. Needless to say, Janie is a force of nature herself, and no matter what dark alley a call takes her down, this lady is coming out alive and so is her patient.

Telling the Story

[quote_right]What also emerged during our visit was Acadian’s ability to tell the human side of what it means to be in EMS. They tell the Katrina story and the story of their company with humility, grace, and a deep appreciation for their colleagues and the many other services that stepped in to lend a hand.[/quote_right]What emerged over the course of those two days of interviews was the amazing story of what Acadian, and private EMS, were able to accomplish in the midst of the hurricane’s devastation. Hospitals were shuttered, law enforcement was overrun, citizens were cut off, and conditions for everyone—including EMS—were unspeakable. Despite this, medics in the area stayed and other ambulance services rolled in.

Hundreds of ambulances with trained medics rolled in to help New Orleans and countless communities throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Whether or not they knew how bad the situation was, they still went in. No one can ever calculate what that response meant to the City of New Orleans and the other affected areas, but I think we all have a sense of how much worse it would have been without the timely response of private EMS. What also emerged during our visit was Acadian’s ability to tell the human side of what it means to be in EMS. They tell the Katrina story and the story of their company with humility, grace, and a deep appreciation for their colleagues and the many other services that stepped in to lend a hand.
So after an incredible 48 hours in Louisiana we had to head home, and I left with a heavy heart. I wanted to stay a little longer. No, I wanted to stay a lot longer. But why? As I sat on the plane home, it hit me. It was the Acadian Effect. Acadian is that big, shining example of what an innovative, self-determined private EMS company can mean to the population they serve. How you can put people first and come out a winner. How when you put people first everyone benefits. Telling the incredible Acadian success story benefits all of EMS because it typifies the EMS culture of going beyond what’s required and how maintaining human dignity is an essential part of patient care.

So let’s tell that story! Let’s tell the story of Acadian and Katrina. Let’s tell the story of Sandy, Joplin, the Boston Bombing, and the thousands of times a day private EMS responds to 9-1-1 with compassion and highly skilled medical knowledge because that’s your chosen profession. Let’s tell the story until the press, the public and the legislators are telling it for us.

Our heartfelt thanks to Acadian and every AAA member we have the privilege of serving.

Want More?

Watch AAA’s Katrina & Rita retrospective video that features many of the subjects of this blog post.

Acadian Ambulance High School Champions Livonia

Acadian’s High School Champions Program Leads the Way

Founded in 1971 in with just eight staff and two vehicles, Acadian Ambulance has grown over the years to more than 4000 employees with a fleet of 400 ground ambulances, helicopters, fixed-wing airplanes, and van and bus transports. Their territory has expanded from Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, to stations spanning large swaths of Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

How does such a large and varied service feed their talent pipeline? In addition to many other strategies, Acadian is leading the industry in its efforts to engage young adults in EMS through its High School Champions program, a division of their National EMS Academy.

Porter Taylor, Acadian's Director of Operations
Porter Taylor, Acadian’s Director of Operations

To learn more about the ins-and-outs of the program, AAA caught up with Porter Taylor, Acadian’s Director of Operations. Taylor has been in EMS for 29 years, since he joined Acadian Ambulance as a college sophomore. “I love making a difference in people’s lives. When I was working on a unit it was the patient, and now, almost 30 years later, it is the employees that I love helping.”

Establishing High School Champions was not a linear path. Initially, Acadian would send medics to career fairs and school functions to introduce the field and promote its National EMS Academy (NEMSA) as an opportunity after graduation. “There are a lot of technical grants out there, and a critical staffing need for EMS in general. We wanted to create an avenue for educating students about the benefits of becoming EMTs to support our staffing needs long term,” said Taylor.

Although these medic visits were effective, Acadian wanted to expand the fledgling program’s scope and reach. He began visiting area high schools and meeting with school boards and directors more than a year ago to build relationships and explore opportunities. The partnerships he built added another facet to the High School Champion initiative wherein Acadian continues to promote NEMSA, coupled with an effort to get the schools to incorporate an EMT program as an elective prior to graduation. “[I wanted] to introduce them to our company and our support of this technical career path. My goal was to let the teachers and technical program directors know that Acadian has jobs for their students upon the successful completion of the program. Once students turn 18, Acadian will be able to offer them a rewarding  position with good pay and benefits and with continuing education opportunities.”

Acadian Operations Manager Justin Cox was instrumental in the implementation at Livonia High School, a recent addition to the program. In concert with his professional know-how, Cox had a personal connection to the school—his thirteen year old daughter attends Livonia.

Collaborating with the administration, Acadian now works with schools like Livonia to introduce EMS career paths at the end of high school, a time when students are making key choices about their futures. Students can start the EMT training program as an elective prior to graduation and take the national certification exam upon turning 18. Students spend 2-3 hours 3 days a week, during their junior and senior years preparing. “It is a joy to work on this program,” said Taylor, “It is a privilege to help young people make a career choice that is full of rewards.”

Does your service have a great program that is making a difference in your area? Let us know in the comments section below, or email ariordan@ambulance.org.