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Augusta ambulance zone to be reopened to bidders

City, Gold Cross fail to reach deal

Thursday, Aug 1, 2013 8:03 PM
Last updated Friday, Aug 2, 2013 1:43 AM
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A regional council, not the city of Augusta, will have the final say in who has exclusive access to emergency medical services calls in Richmond County.

The Region VI Emergency Medical Services Council voted Thursday to reopen the city’s EMS “zone” and receive bids, starting Oct. 24, from ambulance companies seeking to become the sole designated provider in Richmond County.

The vote made good on the council’s May 9 promise to reopen the zone if Augusta and Gold Cross EMS, its primary provider since 2006, failed to agree on a distribution plan.

EMS Region VI Program Director Ernie Doss said he spoke with city Administrator Fred Russell and Gold Cross CEO Vince Brogdon and that no agreement had been reached. Brogdon, who serves on the council, abstained from voting.

Fourteen licensed EMS providers with offices in the 13-county district will have the opportunity to submit proposals, Doss said.

The move will likely affect contract negotiations between the city and Gold Cross.

The city and Gold Cross have struggled over turf for more than a year. Last summer, Gold Cross asked the council to designate it as sole zone provider but city officials balked.

Headquartered in Martinez, Gold Cross is the sole designated provider in Columbia County.

In February, the Augusta Commission voted to terminate its contract and seek competitive bids.

In June, the commission reversed course and authorized Russell to renegotiate a contract with Gold Cross.

The council will receive bids from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4 and will make a recommendation by Nov. 14.

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nocnoc 08/02/13 - 06:58 am
One of the frequently

One of the frequently increasing times that logic is coming from higher up the Political Food Chain, maybe.

curly123053 08/02/13 - 07:32 am
And ?

Politics in Richmond County or Ga don't make sense to me some of the time. In my 22 years in EMS in SC each of the 4 counties I worked in were the ones who decided who their 9-1-1 provider for EMS would be, not some regional authority. I myself prefer a county run service because the private services are all about making money over servicing the people. I have worked for both over the years and a government run service looks out for the people's needs better than a private for profit group.

nocnoc 08/02/13 - 08:11 am
curly123053 - You have good points

But would have to say 1 reason for the regional take, is to protect rural farm counties, seedy parts of a county, and insure wider coverage areas and the ability to respond.

Plus to reduce the chances of a local Good Old Boy wink,wink contract that say full county coverage, that really means always have coverage for the better side of a county and would allow a deadly response time for other parts.

rmwhitley 08/02/13 - 09:19 am
Gold Cross

spends the vast majority of its calls in da hood.

Sweet son
Sweet son 08/02/13 - 12:12 pm
So what is the difference between Russel giving a 10 per day

and 6 at night contract to Gold Cross and giving "exclusive access to emergency calls?"

It would seem that if Gold Cross had a contract with the county that it would include the rights to the emergency calls.

I guess I just don't understand.

OtherSideOfTheMoon 08/02/13 - 09:36 pm
I'm confused. I swear I read

I'm confused. I swear I read an article in the Chronicle earlier this week that the city of Augusta and Gold Cross did, in fact, reach an agreement. In addition, the commission made Fred Russell the city's official contact with Gold Cross instead of Chris James, the fire chief. And the article mentioned something about Gold Cross not being "in network" with any of the local health insurance carriers causing private paying patients to pay inflated prices for ambulance service. Maybe I am wrong and didn't read this. But for the sake of argument, I hope that this regional committee that is now involved will ensure that whatever ambulance service operates in Augusta in the future will become "in network" providers for at least the major insurance companies!

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