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.