Opportunity EMS remains on suspension

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Opportunity EMS’s dispatch agreement with Covington County E-911 remains suspended.

Two weeks ago, the E-911 board made the decision to suspend the company for 60 days after the ambulance company admitted to responding to a motorcycle accident involving an off-duty police officer with a basic life support unit, when it was a Code 3 call, which means that paramedics are required.

Mark Ryan, attorney for the board, said that Opportunity EMS got to the scene and then called for a paramedic.

The board agreed to give Opportunity EMS the chance to respond in a special called meeting held Monday.

Thomas Tankersley, attorney for Opportunity EMS, spoke to the board, but did not provide any evidence indicating the Opportunity EMS did not violate the contract by not providing an advanced life support unit.

Tankersley did challenge the board, saying the residents of Florala are suffering because Opportunity EMS was the only ambulance service working that area at the time it was suspended.

But Board member Lance Price told Tankersley he was not answering the questions about the reason for the suspension.

Tanksersley claimed he had made three requests of the board, but they were not answered.

“You went to the office and Mrs. (Kristi) Stamnes made hundreds of copies for you that day,” Ryan said. “Thursday she made more copies on the other ambulance services for you. That has nothing to do with the actions today. This is not a review of the other ambulance companies.”

Ryan told Tankersley that a member of Opportunity EMS admitted to failing to comply with the contract.

“Do you have anything to contradict that?” Price asked.

Tankersley said he was requesting that the board reverse its actions because it was doing irreparable harm to Opportunity EMS and that the board had given misinformation to the press.

Tankersley did not address what specific misinformation the E-911 board had allegedly given to the media.

He said that the company had not received any calls from E-911 in two weeks.

Tankersley was reminded again that his company admitted they went to the scene with a BLS unit, which is the violation.

Tankersley claimed that no due process was given, but Ryan maintained it wasn’t an issue of due process, but of contract analysis.

“You know it’s not due process,” he said.

Tankersley then changed the subject back to Florala not having ambulance service and claimed that the people of Florala were suffering.

“I can assure you there is someone going to Florala,” board member Wayne Godwin said. “There are people being dispatched to Florala, along with Florala Fire and Rescue. It’s not the perfect scenario.”

Tankersley acknowledged that he misspoke.

Opportunity EMS Advanced EMT Shana McVickers spoke during public comment, saying that since the suspension, they have notified E-911 that they had an ALS unit stocked in Florala, but calls did not go to them.

McVickers was upset that E-911 knew that there was an ambulance within minutes of a patient but chose to call for an ambulance company not on suspension.

Ryan told McVickers that they were knowingly not in compliance, and that they can’t say the next day they have their act together.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks, who sits on the board, asked members of Opportunity EMS if they wanted to talk about what happened on Oct. 9.

Opportunity EMS did not. Neither Meeks nor board member Cory Spurlin would speak to what happened on the record after the meeting.