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.