Archived Story

Ambulance provider selected for county

Published 3:54pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Four months after adopting a county-wide ambulance ordinance, the Franklin County Commission was finally able to make a decision on which ambulance service will exclusively operate in the county’s coverage area.

Based on the recommendation of the Franklin County EMS Committee, the commission voted on Monday to approve the contract for Shoals Ambulance Service to be the sole provider of emergency services for all of Franklin County, with the exception of the Phil Campbell coverage area, which is covered by the Phil Campbell Rescue Squad.

Monday’s decision is the result of several months of reviewing proposals and addressing questions and concerns in regards to the three requests for proposal (RFPs) submitted by Shoals Ambulance Service, Transcare Ambulance Service, and Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service.

Belinda Johnson, chief nursing officer for Russellville Hospital and the chairperson of the EMS committee, said the decision was not something the committee was able to come to overnight.

“All three of the ambulance service providers had good qualities,” Johnson said.

“We judged each service based on the same set of criteria, and Shoals Ambulance Service proved to be the best provider at this time based on all the factors we considered.”

Commission chairman Barry Moore said he trusted the recommendation of the EMS committee.

“This is what the county’s EMS committee was created for and I believe this group of people is well-equipped to have reviewed the proposal requests and give us a recommendation for an ambulance provider that will be the best one for our county and our citizens,” Moore said.

“These people have backgrounds in the medical field and are representatives of the community and I am confident in their recommendation.”

Blake Hargett, the operations manager for Shoals Ambulance Service, was present for Monday’s meeting and said their company was ready to get to work in Franklin County.

According to the contract, Shoals Ambulance will have 30 days to become fully operational in the county.

“I have worked in Franklin County on and off for 15 years through other services and I also have friends and family who live in Franklin County,” Hargett said.

“When I heard the county would be bidding out the ambulance service and saw a need here, it felt natural for us to submit a bid because this feels like home.

“We are happy to have received the contract and to serve Franklin County as their ambulance service provider.”

Hargett said he felt confident in the level of care Shoals Ambulance Service would bring to the citizens of Franklin County.

“We have state of the art equipment that I believe will be a great benefit to Franklin County citizens,” Hargett said.

“We have Mercedes-Benz ambulances that are equipped with advanced technology, such as 12 lead EKGs that are able to transmit information to the hospital ahead of our arrival.

“We have a critical care transport truck we will be able to use. We also have a bariatrics lift that can accommodate 1,300 lbs.

“I am happy that we have the opportunity to bring these services and more to Franklin County.”

Transcare representative Gary Bradford and Pleasant Bay owner Elzie Malone were also present at Monday’s commission meeting.

Tuscumbia attorney Billy Underwood, who represents Pleasant Bay, also attended the meeting.

“Under the current guidelines, it is impossible for any ambulance carrier to make a profit,” Underwood said.

“We will see how long it takes Shoals to lose money and not fulfill the requirements of the contract.

“Common sense says there is a tremendous amount of the population with no insurance, and ambulance carriers don’t get paid transporting these patients to Florence or Birmingham.

“Like I said, we’ll just be waiting to see what happens because I think this is an impossible standard for anyone to conform to.”

After operating Pleasant Bay in Franklin County since 1997, Malone said he was disappointed to not receive the contract.

“I’m just going to see what my options are before moving forward,” Malone said. “I just don’t feel like this ordinance is right or that the services should have been bid out.”

Moore said the ordinance was reviewed by the EMS Committee, which, in addition to Johnson includes Roy Gober, Franklin County EMA director; Dr. Kevin Kelly, medical director for Russellville Fire Department; Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell; Doug Hatton, Franklin County Commission representative; Linda Holcomb, city of Red Bay representative; Sue Raper, town of Vina representative; and Frankie Petree, town of Hodges representative.

The county-wide ambulance ordinance, adopted in February, lays out uniform regulations for any emergency medical service (EMS) provider within the county.

“The whole point of this ordinance is to provide the best service possible for our citizens,” Moore said.

“Our goal was to have a good, quality ambulance service for the citizens of Franklin County. Whether they live in Atwood or Pogo, at the east end of the county or the west end, we want everyone to have the best care possible.

“Based on the recommendation of the EMS Committee, I think we have made the best decision for the county.”

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