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City of Andalusia drops EMS bid process

Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson delivered a press release to the office of the Andalusia Star-News and the offices of other area media outlets without comment. That press release provided the latest information regarding emergency medical services within the city limits of Andalusia and the Andalusia City Council's efforts at adopting a bid proposal for EMS providers.

In a short, three paragraph statement, the city has officially decided to drop the bid process it proposed a few months back and continue with a rotational dispatch system through the Covington County E-911.

According to the statement, the City received only one bid for emergency medical services, and that bid was in excess of what the City was willing to pay.

"Since the City only received one bid for these services, and since the bid exceeds what the City is willing to pay, the City has rejected that bid," the statement says. "As a result, emergency medical services within the city limits of Andalusia will continue to be dispatched by Covington County E-911 on a rotation basis between Andalusia Rescue Squad and Faith EMS, or as otherwise determined by the E-911 Board of Directors."

Simply put, the whole issue between Faith EMS and the City of Andalusia is over, and the issue of only one rescue service providing services within Andalusia's city limits is over.

Steve Walters, General Manager and Director of EMS for Andalusia Rescue Squad, and the only agency submitting a bid, said he wasn't surprised by the City Council's actions.

"I'm not really surprised," Walters said. "We provided a proposal of what services we could provide and included a listing of what our equipment was, what our personnel status was and the other services we could provide. We simply submitted a bid according to the guidelines we were provided."

Doug Tisdale, owner of Faith EMS, was pleased with the city's decision.

"I'm proud that the mayor realized that the citizens were opposed to the city's actions and he's done what's best for the citizens of Andalusia."

Tisdale, who has been the most vocal in opposition to the bid process, said he disagreed with the situation on principle.

"I will never agree with the city dictating that the citizens have to use one business and then they have to pay for it," he said. "Just on the principle standpoint, I think that's wrong."

Although the city has agreed to keep the rotational system, Walters said he doesn't know how the E-911 board played into the decision.

"I don't know what they had to do with the situation," he said. "We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing - providing patient care."

And although the issue does appear to be over, at least for now, there was one part of the statement from the city that puzzled all parties.

"In addition, the City will purchase whatever emergency medical service it requires on an 'as needed' basis," the statement concluded.

Walters said he wasn't sure what that meant.

"I don't understand exactly what it means, all I can say at this time is that our bid was rejected and we're going to keep provided patient care."

It is believed that the statement means that when the city needs to request stand-by services for events such as football games, civic functions and the like, that they will then "purchase" those services from a rescue service for that function.

And as long as those services remain below the $7,500 Alabama Bid Law restriction, it's perfectly legal - and neither rescue service can object.