Town Wants To Charge For 911 Medical Calls The town of Tracy, Calif., will soon start charging people for medical emergency calls to 911. The town is trying to make up for a $9 million budget deficit, in part, by charging residents $300 per call, and nonresidents $400 per call. The fee can be avoided by paying an annual surcharge.
NPR logo

Town Wants To Charge For 911 Medical Calls

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124052186/124052151" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Town Wants To Charge For 911 Medical Calls

Town Wants To Charge For 911 Medical Calls

Town Wants To Charge For 911 Medical Calls

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124052186/124052151" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The town of Tracy, Calif., will soon start charging people for medical emergency calls to 911. The town is trying to make up for a $9 million budget deficit, in part, by charging residents $300 per call, and nonresidents $400 per call. The fee can be avoided by paying an annual surcharge.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler sorts it all out.

BEN ADLER: Unidentified Man: (Unintelligible) dialing 911 will cost hundreds of dollars in one local city for residents. Laura Cole has more now on the rising price for safety in Tracy.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION PROGRAM)

ADLER: The reporter went on to say, if you have a medical emergency, get out your wallet, but that detail kind of got lost. Stories about a 911 fee turned up in the national media, and calls poured into Tracy City Hall, forcing a scramble to clear things up.

DAVID BRAMELL: It's not - it is, in fact, not a 911 fee.

ADLER: That's the city's acting fire chief, David Bramell.

BRAMELL: It's been kind of misconstrued as someone calls 911 and they're going to get charged this $300. That's not it at all.

ADLER: So what is it, then? Well, the answer is a bit better, though not great.

BRAMELL: If you have a medical emergency, you call 911, and we render service, you'll be subject to be billed.

ADLER: Bramell says the lion's share of 911 calls to the fire department are now for medical emergencies, and these days, that's expensive.

BRAMELL: Unidentified Woman #2: Thank you.

ADLER: Unidentified Woman #4: So why should we have to pay extra?

ADLER: Here's Tracy resident Ed Ramirez(ph).

ED RAMIREZ: I'd rather pay the extra fee and know that it's fair and equitable for the community. I guess I don't really have a problem with it.

ADLER: For NPR News, I'm Ben Adler.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.