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Council could reopen Augusta EMS zone

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The regional council that governs emergency medical services gave Augusta and Gold Cross EMS until August to develop a plan for ambulance calls or it will reopen EMS zoning for Richmond County.

On a motion from council member Courtney Terwilliger, the EMS director in Emanuel County, the Region 6 Council voted unanimously Thursday to reopen Augusta’s zone if the city and Gold Cross fail to reach an agreement.

If Augusta’s zone is reopened, ambulance companies will be able to apply to the council to become the designated provider.

Augusta staff attorney Jody Smitherman, who attended the meeting, said the city does not expect to reach an agreement with Gold Cross, and Gold Cross owner Bo Pounds questioned whether a majority of Augusta Commission members support reopening the zone.
The city and Gold Cross have been at odds since last summer, when Augusta Fire Chief Chris James questioned the vague terms of the city’s eight-year-old contract with Gold Cross.

It was the council’s error, members acknowledged Thursday, to fail to include a required distribution plan for EMS calls in Augusta when members voted in 2005 to designate Augusta and Gold Cross as “co-zone providers” in the city.

Thursday’s decision leaves Augusta with an open request for proposals from EMS companies but without certainty about the territory or volume of calls a provider would cover. Several representatives of 12 EMS companies who attended a recent pre-bid conference said they were concerned about the issue after Gold Cross CEO Vince Brogdon suggested the firm might continue to service its “half” of Augusta’s EMS calls.

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nocnoc
42557
Points
nocnoc 05/10/13 - 07:26 am
2
0
May I suggest something?

Copy something that works.

Start training ARC fire personnel to be GA certified FR/EMS-EMT fire personnel.

The ARC-FD responses 1st anyhow.
So why not Run our own ambulance company with our own FR/EMT staff?

Leave NON-Emergency non-911 calls and medicare hauls to "any" private ambulance companies.

Unbelievable
84
Points
Unbelievable 05/10/13 - 08:30 am
0
0
Augusta Richmond County Fire-Fighters are EMTs

I think the fact that the city can't pay a decent wage to the current staff of the Fire Department, and are furloughing them to 'save' money is reason enough to understand why a 'private' EMS service is used.

Maybe Chris should look into correcting issues within the department before starting more outside of the department.

TakeAHike
186
Points
TakeAHike 05/10/13 - 10:53 am
0
0
Get rid of Gold Cross!

A county wide EMS service shouldn't be allowed to gouge patients. In other jurisdictions, EMS is a free service not a for profit business that has a monopoly. Gold Cross is out of network with ALL insurance companies as a business tactic so they can charge whatever they want and leave the patient--often not even the one who called them--with a big bill that isn't covered by insurance. Gold Cross is being greedy. EMS service should go out for bid and Richmond county should require that any EMS service bidding for the contract must be an in network provider with major medical health insurers.

Shortcomment
1163
Points
Shortcomment 05/10/13 - 11:00 am
0
0
If we pay Gold Cross to perfrom services?

Cut out the middle man.
Use the that same money be used to pay ARC-FD EMS's
a decent wage for the extra level of certification?

Sweet son
10398
Points
Sweet son 05/10/13 - 11:18 am
1
0
Chief James and the EMS council are trying to fix something

that is not broken. As for takeahike's comment we don't know how many ambulance runs that Gold Cross has to eat because they have to transport those who pay and those who don't. We all know that some call ambulances instead of calling a cab!

Heck, Chief James might be kin to Azziz with his power grab notion over the ambulance service. Sounds like the whole thing is more political than the desire to provide the best services to Richmond County citizens.

dichotomy
32932
Points
dichotomy 05/10/13 - 12:44 pm
0
0
NO COMPANY should be allowed

NO COMPANY should be allowed to be a primary ambulance provider if it does not accept ALL insurance as full payment for it's services.

And I have ALWAYS thought that any municipality worth living in should provide EMERGENCY ambulance services in house. You can let all of the fly-by-night providers you want do the non-emergency transport calls but I think the county needs to have it's own in-house emergency ambulance service. If someone declares and emergency and the ambulance crew determines in a simple transport, they should call one of the fly-by-nighters and go back to the station house. It won't take long for people to figure out that they cannot call 911 to take grandma to the emergency room because she has a cold and that simple TRANSPORT costs a lot of money. Simple transport is not a county responsibility.....Emergency transport IS.

betcha2
42
Points
betcha2 05/10/13 - 01:54 pm
0
0
ambulance service

Richmond County pays Gold Cross a very large subsidized fee to provide service to residents who cannot pay while Gold Cross charge residents who can pay. The ambulance company has a gold mine at the cost of Richmond County residents. The county officials have a right and an OBLIGATION to its citizens to ensure we have a proper contract with an ambulance service; to ensure we receive quality care/responses from the ambulance company; and to ensure we get the "best deal" for the money. Now the complainers are objecting that the person responsible to ensure compliance with the contract (by the way that is 8 years old!) wants bids on a new contract. Again, this is to ensure the "best deal" for the county citizens. WE DESERVE IT. An eight year old contract that renews automatically with no end date; no stipulation as to how many ambulances will stay within our county lines is ludicious? We also must seek and retain our zone to be Richmond County! Why would you give up the control of being the zone provider to outside companies, when we are subsidizing the service. Let me put it another way... would you pay a contractor to build your home with no voice in what he builds or the quality/standards? Of course not, why would you allow ANY ambulance service control over the zone; being paid by the county, and the county having no voice? Where is the logic? For common sense to go out to pasture with some of our commissioners, would tend to make the public question, Gold Cross and the commissioner's, let's say "understanding". I agree with TAKEAHIKE!

texsmoke
139
Points
texsmoke 05/10/13 - 02:34 pm
1
0
Insurance

All ambulance providers accept all insurances. Its the insurance companies that are the problem. They like to find any reason to deny. As far as cost, go somewhere where national companies are and get that 2500 ambulance bill.

QuickDraw
62
Points
QuickDraw 05/10/13 - 04:31 pm
1
0
Reality Check

With the current manpower issues the the Fire Department has for just manning fire trucks how are they going to meet there own creation of the bid specs? Dont get me wrong when I say this but everyone has got to look at the glass full and not half full. Augusta simply does not have the resources to operate such a service. And lets say that the Fire Department aquires the ambulance service how are they going to meet the demands for the call volume as well maintain training that is required for firefighter and EMT's. Logical thinking will tell you that overtime will still be an issue just to meet the demands that are required. Firefighters are going to get burned out. Now what I could see happening is an ambulance service partnering with the fire department as a joint agency and providing services but there is still going to have to billing for insurance. There is simply to much medicaid and low income and or no insurance folks out there that cost a business such as an ambulance service to provide services in general. Obama care is laying the law down stating everyone should have insurance so there is no reason why any ambulance service should not bill for services.
For all you folks out there that say you pay taxes for such services and you should not be billed for medical care. My question to you is how are the employees going to get paid? How are supplies supose to be puchased for the ambulances? Oh I know the county can simply raise your taxes and then what you will complain about that. In the perfect world this hole EMS service would be good if everyone had a job with bebfits and paid taxes but we all know thats not the case. So before you go stepping in more crap you really dont have any business dealing with do some research of your county and the income ratio.

texsmoke
139
Points
texsmoke 05/10/13 - 05:55 pm
0
0
Quickdraw

I dont think people realize it would take a minimum of 15-20 million for Augusta to start its own ambulance service. Then when taxes go sky high the same people wanting it will bash it. Gold Cross has never violated the contract according to an article Fred Russell was quoted in. Why dont Augusta and Gold Cross just negotiate a new contract. An article a few months ago stated Gold Cross wanted to

Sweet son
10398
Points
Sweet son 05/10/13 - 07:08 pm
0
0
Overtime firefighters cannot fulfill the job being done by Gold

Cross. Most of them are basic EMTs and do not have the training provided by Gold Cross employees who are trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Nothing wrong with the firefighters being first responders but their skills are limited. Training them in ACLS skills would take a lot of time and money. Don't get me wrong I appreciate all of the firefighters and their on the scene efforts but I want someone with more advanced training taking care of me if I am a critical patient!

texsmoke
139
Points
texsmoke 05/10/13 - 07:30 pm
0
0
Well said sweet son

I think the old saying saying don't fix what aint broken comes into play. I appreciate our fire department but seeing Gold Cross maintain their duties is much better off for the residents. It would take so much money to have the fire department take over when the service is not lacking currently. Hopefully both sides can come to an agreement because if zoning is opened any company has the chance of getting it. I would rather stick with what works instead of taking the chance of some unknown getting the zone

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