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3 seek to provide in Augusta EMS Zone

Priority Care EMS joins Gold Cross, fire department

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 9:03 PM
Last updated 9:19 PM
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A third name has jumped in the ring to provide ambulance service to Augusta-Richmond County residents, but the state will make the final decision about who services the county.

The Region 6 EMS Council reviewed submissions Wednesday from emergency medical service providers seeking to be “zone provider” in Augusta under a state system designed to prevent duplication of services and settle disputes between companies.

Current provider Gold Cross EMS and Augusta Fire Department each bid for the service, but joining the contest Wednesday was Priority Care EMS.

According to Priority Care owner Melissa Oden, who attended the council meeting, the company is based in Wrens and has two existing EMS substations on Deans Bridge Road and Pleasant Home Road.

Priority Care bid to provide EMS service in a five-mile radius around the two substations, Oden said.

In 2012 at the urging of Fire Chief Chris James, the Augusta Commission sought new bids from ambulance providers. A few months later, however, the commission decided instead to renegotiate with Gold Cross, and earlier this year voted to award the Martinez EMS service a contract to serve the entire county.

As commissioners were making that decision, however, the EMS Council, a regional body, voted to reopen Augusta’s EMS “zone” to bids. One of the reasons was to alleviate a prior council decision to name both the county and Gold Cross as “co-zone” providers.

Council Chairman John Graham said the group will make a recommendation based only on the information provided by bidders, but the final decision will be made by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

City Administrator Fred Russell said he’d been finalizing a contract with Gold Cross, as the commission voted for him to do. If the council’s decision conflicts with the contract, Russell said he didn’t think Augusta was under any obligation to pay the other provider, which instead must rely on health insurance and other claims to be paid for the service.

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ColCo 11/07/13 - 07:01 am

It's amazing how little faith the "leaders" in Richmond County have in the private sector, government can always do it better. They are running a multi-million dollar budget deficit and still wants the Augusta Fire Department in the ambulance business. Obviously, some of the commissioners want to control every job possible in Richmond County.

Marinerman1 11/07/13 - 09:58 am
Help Me to Understand

How in the hell can the Fire Department also be an ambulance service? In theory, it could be done; but WHY? Gold Cross has the equipment and infrastructure already in place. And why would you want to carve out two sections of the county for an additional player - Priority Care?? I don't get it.

Sweet son
Sweet son 11/07/13 - 01:39 pm
Both preceeding comments raise good questions!!

Especially troubling is Chief James' desire to 'run everything' from fire response to ambulance response. Heck he can't even run the FD so what kind of a boondoggle would it be if he was given authority over ambulances.

His bid/request should be automatically thrown out and leave the ambulance service to the two private companies.

Finally the contract should be bid as a 'all or nothing' deal! If it is bid that way and Priority can bid complete county service then they should be considered.

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