Faith EMS takes issue with City

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

Faith EMS is still open for business, and the case is not closed. Doug Tisdale, president of Faith EMS in Andalusia, has voiced his concerns regarding actions and statements made during Tuesday night's Andalusia City Council Workshop and subsequent press briefing following the regularly scheduled city council meeting. Tisdale is also expressing concern over the story that was published in yesterday's Star-News, and other media outlets.

The stories in question center around the denial of a preliminary injunction filed by Faith EMS against the City of Andalusia Monday. The denial of the injunction, as issued by Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan says:

"This cause came on for hearing on the 10th day of September, 2003, pursuant to prior decree. The plaintiff appeared by and through its attorney, Hon. Max Cassady. Likewise, the defendant appeared by and through its attorney, Hon. Tom Albritton. The undersigned judge took then took up the question of whether or not a preliminary injunction should be issued out in this proceeding. Thereupon, and after due consideration of the testimony presented, the Court now FINDS and ORDERS as follows:

1. The plaintiff will not suffer irreparable injury if a preliminary injunction is declined in this case;

2. The request for a preliminary injunction is accordingly DENIED with reference both to (A) those grounds for same as presented in writing, and (B) those grounds asserted on the record on September 10th;

3. Likewise, the temporary restraining order of June 30, 2003, shall have no further force or effect;


4. Any motions to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint as filed by the defendant are due to be, and they hereby are, OVERRULED and DENIED, so that the defendant must now answer all the averments against it."

What that means, according to Tisdale, is that the city still has to answer all of the questions Faith EMS has had about the city's bid process for emergency medical services. Tisdale also said he takes offense to some of the comments Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson made regarding Faith EMS' plans for operation in Andalusia.

"When the mayor said I came to him and asked about opening a rescue squad business and that I had no interest in providing emergency services, that's not true," Tisdale said. "I've never said any of those things that he said I did. When I first thought about starting Faith, I went to him and asked about opening a business and how to go about that, I never said I didn't want to run rescue calls."

"Doug never went to the mayor and asked about a rescue squad," said Tisdale's father, Quitman. "He asked about a license for an emergency medical service - that name alone says he was seeking to run 'emergency' calls."

Tisdale said he also takes exception to the mayor's comments on the level and quality of emergency medical services and incidents where municipalities with multiple EMS providers got into physical altercations; which prompted the city to seek a bid process to route emergency calls - a bid process Faith EMS did not enter.

"The state's rules are very clear on the level of care and service," Tisdale said. "We are licensed by the state and meet all of their requirements. Why does the city need to require more? We don't believe it is legal, some of the requirements the city placed in the bid process."

Those bid requirements Tisdale questioned include providing stand-by for civic events; providing stand-by for civic club events, teaching CPR, First Aid and safety classes for local organizations when requested to do so, providing generator service during prolonged power outages when requested to do so by the city, providing generator and lights for local law enforcement on crime scenes, and providing generator and lights for local law enforcement for road blocks and checkpoints.

"I did not bid because I believe had I bid, I would have opened Faith

EMS up to an investigation and sanctions by Medicare," Tisdale said. "Medicare says you can't offer anything of value to a city or government entity. I think these provisions, providing the extra equipment - which has value - is against the Medicare regulations. The regulations are there to avoid abuses, and I feel this could lead to those abuses. Providing some of those services could also hurt other agencies, like the Red Cross, which teaches CPR and First Aid classes. And as far as rescue squads being at civic events and sporting events, it's the individual organization who contracts for those services, not the city. The booster clubs typically pay for the rescue squads at football games. As for the worries over fighting by rescue workers, there has only been one instance in the past 25 years where there was ever any conflict, and that was on the Interstate, and both parties involved lost their licenses."

Tisdale also says the mayor's remarks regarding the "jaws of life" as a piece of equipment the city "wanted" the winning rescue provider to have was off base.

Mayor Johnson said, "The state doesn't require emergency responders to carry the 'jaws of life.' We wanted whoever responds to calls to have the proper equipment, so they wouldn't have to track down another service."

Tisdale said that's unnecessary.

"The 'jaws of life' was not required in the bid proposal," he said. "That doesn't apply to our industry - the emergency medical services - but we do have the piece of equipment, and we have successfully used it each time it was needed."

And while Judge McKathan's order denied the preliminary injunction, Tisdale said the fight is not over.

"The complaint is still in court, and still valid," Tisdale said. "The Court upheld my complaint over the bid process, and the City still must answer why they feel this is the right way to handle the situation."

Editor's note:

In Friday's edition of the Andalusia Star-News, we will have more remarks from both sides of the EMS issue, including remarks from state officials and other local officials.