E-911, Florala to solve EMS crisis

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Covington County E-911 board moved forward on establishing exclusive service contracts in the county’s different areas for ambulance services.

There is a specific need in Florala, after concerns about the availability of emergency medical services led the Florala City Council to seek bids from ambulance companies.

The city didn’t get any bids.

E-911 attorney Mark Ryan said that’s not too surprising when you look at the number of calls and the cost for running the business.

“It doesn’t make much business sense,” he said. “We have figured that it’s about $500 a day just in personnel costs to staff an advanced life support unit.”

Ryan said as a solution, he met with Florala Mayor Robert Williamson and city attorney Wesley Laird and discussed having a joint bid with the city of Opp for an exclusive services contract.

Ryan said the Florala City Council could potentially approve a building and pay the utilities to help offset the cost of bringing the needed service there 24/7.

“Some type of financial supplement that would put a full-time ALS support unit there,” Ryan said.

Ryan said for an ambulance company to get the Opp territory and pair it with Florala makes more sense financially for the company.

“They would provide the service to Florala in order to get the exclusive agreement,” he said.

The new Opp and Florala area would include Opp and Florala and everything from 55 South at Yellow River to the state line and everything east of Yellow River.

The contract would provide an ALS unit in Florala at all times and require that the company have another one close enough to deploy if the needed while the unit is on call.

Opp Fire Chief Cory Spurlin asked if that would take away from the number in Opp now, and he was told the ambulance company would need to supply an additional ambulance unit for Florala.

It was also decided that the new contract would be for a term of 48 months to give the winning ambulance company time to recoup the costs of investing in a new ambulance.

Ryan told the board members they needed to decide how to handle issues if the ambulance company fails to comply.

Board members agreed to fine the non-compliant company up to $5,000 or terminate their agreement.

The board will meet again Oct. 27, at 10 a.m., at the county commission chambers on Hillcrest Drive, to approve the bid package.