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Council approves EMS request

Ever since the Faith EMS Service began operation in Andalusia back in January, the City of Andalusia, and specifically a city-appointed emergency medical service (EMS) committee has been attempting to devise a plan to ensure that citizens in Andalusia receive the highest quality of rescue service.

During a recent council meeting, the city approved the establishment of a business license for regular transport service, and on Tuesday night the Andalusia City Council approved a request proposal for emergency medical, rescue and ambulance service, or services that would require fire and police personnel.

During the workshop session preceding the regular meeting, Councilman Mike Jones, who heads the city's EMS Committee, said by researching data provided to him by Covington County E-911 Director Susan Carpenter of ambulance runs in Covington County, it was determined that about 5 percent of the runs would be classified as special services while the other 95 percent could be classified as regular transport services which will be handled on a competition basis by the Andalusia Rescue Squad, Faith EMS and any other entity which had a business license to operate within the city limits.

Jones said he found that the special services to be covered by the bid proposal were not difficult to define and said these services would also include standard activities such as providing free blood pressure and blood sugar checks and providing coverage for football games.

Jones said the services to be covered by the proposal constitute a "negligible amount" of services and said the proposal clearly states that the city is requesting the best overall services that can be offered by a particular bidding agency.

Mayor Earl Johnson said there has been much negative publicity regarding the possible bid for emergency services and said Jones and the EMS Committee have been the targets of unnecessary and uncalled for abuse.

He also termed arguments that the city is trying to put a particular entity out of business as "fallacious."

"(The bid proposal) is a business proposition, and practices such as this are done by cities all over this state and nation," said Johnson.

Jones noted that when the committee formulated the proposal it did not "reinvent the wheel," adding that much of the proposal is extremely similar to a request proposal in the City of Ozark.

According to the proposal, the city is seeking a firm to provide emergency medical, rescue and ambulance services for the term of six months, automatically renewable for successive terms, but not to exceed three years combined.

The proposal will be awarded on the basis of the best overall services offered, and it is stated that any information that may enhance the firm's proposal, or any information the firm may deem advantageous to the city, should be included with the proposal and will be considered in making the award.

The firm who receives the bid award should be able to provide three ambulances and ambulances must available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year. These ambulances must be constructed

and equipped in accordance with requirements and standards adopted and promulgated

by the State Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Facilities, Division of Emergency Medical Services.

According to the proposal, all ambulances and mechanical, safety and special equipment will be subject to inspection at any time by the Andalusia fire chief or his or her designee.

Other highlights of the proposal are as follows:

The city will require all three ambulances to be equipped with advanced life support equipment, to include fluids, drugs and monitor defibrillators. Two ambulances will each be staffed on a 24-hour basis with at least one Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic along with at least an Emergency Medical Technician/EVOC driver.

The contractor should at all times maintain a central office within the city with a telephone system adequate to receive rescue and ambulance related calls. The contractor will receive dispatcher calls from Covington County E-911 and in some instances the Andalusia police and fire departments.

The contractor should provide to the fire chief a monthly report which includes the list of current service fees, list of any legal claims pending or resolved against the contractor or associates and employees in the past year, total number of calls made during the preceding month on calls received through E-911, and Andalusia police and fire departments, number of calls that did not result in a transport, average response time and the fire chief may also request more information he or she deems necessary.

The contractor should provide and maintain at all times during the term of the agreement public liability and property damage insurance and umbrella coverage to protect itself, its agents and employees from claims for damages arising from personal injury, including wrongful and accidental death and property damage which may result from operations under the agreement, whether such operations be performed by the contractor, its employees, agents or servants.

The agency agrees to provide such services as the football game coverage, providing stand by for civic events and providing generator and lights for local law enforcement on crime scenes at no cost to the city.

Councilman Jerry Andrews said he had received many calls about the subject and said initially he was not totally educated as to what the special services addressed by the proposal entailed, but said he feels Jones and the committee have done a fine job in devising the proposal, and said he feels the proposal will ensure the best for the citizens of Andalusia.

He also said he feels the proposal is a very fair one, and emphasized that only about 5 percent of ambulance services actually fall under the bid proposal.