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EMS battle heating up

In an attempt to prohibit the City of Andalusia from proceeding with a planned bid proposal for what it terms as special emergency services, Faith EMS has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a petition for injunctive relief.

The motion was filed by the non-profit ambulance service on Friday in Covington County Circuit Court, with the motion stating that its purpose is to "prevent immediate and irreparable injury to the plaintiff and the citizens of the municipality at large."

Tisdale recently requested a 10-day delay in the approval of the bid, a request which the city granted while Tisdale's attorney reviewed the bid proposal.

City Attorney Tom Albritton, reached Friday, said Faith EMS requested another 10-day delay in the bid process, but the city denied this request.

"(Faith EMS) asked for another extension and we said no," said Albritton. "I did not expect them to file the injunction (Friday), but (the city's unwillingness to allow another extension) was probably the reason why they did go ahead and file the injunction."

Albritton also noted that Faith EMS never submitted a bid, noting that a bid had to be turned in by 5 p.m. on Friday.

Faith EMS Owner Doug Tisdale said he did not consider submitting a bid because he felt the bid process, with the bid winner slated to benefit financially from the city, was not legal.

Attorney Rick Clifton, who also represents the city, said the only bid submitted for the emergency services contract was from the Andalusia Rescue Squad.

Faith EMS Owner Doug Tisdale recently said he does not feel the city's bid proposal is legitimate as he and his attorney believe the proposal does not meet federal emergency guidelines, grants too much power over ambulance services to the Andalusia Police Department and also provides requirements for services which he feel are geared toward services which have been provided for years by the Andalusia Rescue Squad.

Albritton said he does not agree.

"We do not feel (Faith EMS) is entitled to the injunctive relief they are seeking, but they are certainly entitled to file this injunction," said Albritton. "We have no idea what the judge will do (with the injunction) and it will be up to the court to decide. We have to award the bid within 30 days so hopefully there would be a judgment before that time."

The motion for injunction, which was obtained by the Star-News, states that while a municipality under Alabama law may have the statutory authority to establish an ambulance service pursuant to its police power to provide for the safety and health of its citizens, it does not have the statutory authority to grant an exclusive contractual right to any ambulance service to receive all 911 calls for emergency medical transportation."

It also states, "the city, under constitutional limitations, is denied the right to grant to any person or corporation any exclusive franchise. Free competition in all departments of commercial traffic is justly deemed to be the life of a people's prosperity."

According to the motion, the exclusive contract "destroys the right of citizens to choose their medical care provider as is their right according to the Patients Bill of Rights posted in all hospitals and medical facilities. The exclusive contract destroys the competition between ambulance service and thus alleviate any motivation for the winner of the bid to improve their education, training and existing equipment."

When asked to comment on the injunction Friday, Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said he was unaware of the city being served with anything signed by a judge and did not wish to comment on something that he had yet to see.