Jacksonville Fire and Rescue audit finds issues with drug logs, billing

Chief says JFRD making changes based on audit's recommendations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A city audit report of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department released Tuesday shows mistakes on inventory logs for narcotics -- and that the city is writing off more than $107,000 in unpaid ambulance transports.

The 16-page report found mathematical errors, missing logs and dates, incomplete entries about unused portions of drugs and little evidence of the Chief's monthly inspection of those logs over the previous year.

That's critical documentation that needs improvement, according to Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters. But it's documentation that can often take a back seat when it comes to saving someone's life.

"The firefighters are out there in the back of a unit, rumbling down the road… at the moment they're administering drugs in a life-threatening situation," Wyse said. "You know it's not always perfect to go, 'Stop just a minute. Let me write down what went on.' They're doing a lot of this stuff on the fly, doing heroic things.. sometimes in the ditches of the streets."

DOCUMENT: JFRD audit report (PDF)

Wyse and JFRD Chief Martin Senterfitt both maintain none of the drugs were misused or stolen, but they agree with the audit's recommendation to implement routine and surprise inventory counts to keep the problems from happening again.

"Anything we can do to make it easier and better, we're all for," Senterfitt said.

The audit, which took place in March 2013, also revealed that hundreds of Emergency Medical Service transports were not billed by a third-party company tasked with handling the city's billing.

The report found that of the 70,000 ambulance transports in 2012, 429 were never billed. At an average of $251 per transport, that adds up to $107,679 worth of revenue.

"When you put it in perspective of 70,000 transports that we did during this time of the audit, it works to be less than one-percent," Senterfitt said. "When that person that's typing in a code puts in the wrong code -- that's a clerical error sometimes. When they type in the code and there is something they think is missing on the report and they hold it back. It's just a sheer volume issue."

Of those 429 unbilled transports, Senterfitt said 212 have now been issued proper bills by Intermedics, the company the city relies on for billing, but he doesn't know if any of those have been paid yet.

Senterfitt said the city is in the process of hiring a specific billing manager to keep the oversights from happening again.

"When auditors come in on the outside, we from our own perspective think we're doing great, but we get an outside set of eyes on it," Senterfitt said. "They come back and they give us suggestions on how we can be better. We welcome those suggestions, and we'll move forward to implementing these changes."

Senterfitt said he sees the audit like a report card – one that gave his department an A-.

"Previously before 2011, we were probably at a C," Senterfitt said. "I would say since 2011, we've raised it to an A-, but I still feel like we have a long ways to go to get that A+ score that we're really after."