Ambulance fee benefits all students

RIDGE PETERSON, Evergreen columnist

The ambulance fee recently proposed to ASWSU by the Pullman Fire Department would improve the safety and security of students on and off campus. This proposition, which has been met with praise and criticism among students, offers benefits that outweigh the minor costs.

Pullman Fire Chief Mike Heston based the proposal on the transit fee students pay currently. If the fee was passed, every WSU student would pay $25 per semester, in exchange for never having to pay a bill to the fire department should they need medical aid. Ambulance bills in Pullman often exceed $1,000.

“I look at it as an insurance policy,” Heston said.

While some students argue that paying an additional fee on top of everything else associated with college is too much, these students should keep in mind that an accident can happen to anyone. This policy would ensure those students aren’t faced with an insurmountable ambulance bill.

Heston added that the fire department, if provided a steady source of income, would be able to increase its ability to provide services to the city, meaning this fee would improve the safety of everyone in Pullman.

ASWSU Sen. Lindsay Schilperoort is a strong supporter of this proposal and has been a leader in developing this plan with the fire department. Schilperoort is an uncertified senator, meaning she represents students at WSU who have not yet declared a major.

“[The ambulance fee proposal] is a really, really cool idea,” Schilperoort said. “I have a friend who I was just casually chatting to, and she goes ‘Hey, if we ever get into an accident, just don’t call the ambulance.’ She was very serious. She said ‘Don’t call the ambulance, I cannot pay for it.’ ”

Students who can’t afford an ambulance may put their lives at risk by refusing service they need because of the high cost. A $25 fee is not too much to pay for the safety of our fellow students.

“I would definitely rather pay $25 and not have to worry about it,” Schilperoort said, “versus somebody who is going to go into debt over an accident.”

Some Cougs might be hesitant to support this fee because they feel that most 911 calls in Pullman are due to students being irresponsible or engaging in reckless behavior. Even if this is true, there is no guarantee that even the most responsible and safe student won’t find him or herself in an accident and in need of an ambulance.

“You could be healthy as a horse,” Heston said, “but something could happen down the road.”

It’s understandable that students don’t want to pay any more to go to school here, given the cost of tuition, books and other university fees. One option, Schilperoort said, would be to make the fee optional, like the Chinook Yearbook fee.

However, Heston believes an optional fee would be less effective, and he said he would rather have a smaller mandatory fee for students instead of an optional donation.

The ambulance proposal will likely be on the ballot next year, giving students plenty of time to consider its pros and cons. If this fee is approved, the benefits are likely to outweigh the proportionately insignificant costs.

Ridge Peterson is a junior marketing and economics major from Woodinville. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of The Office of Student Media.