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franklin county times

Ambulance ordinance rescinded

After six months of discussions, debates and decisions, the Franklin County Commission voted on Monday to rescind all actions pertaining to the county’s ambulance ordinance and its service provider and start over from scratch.

The decision came at the recommendation of county attorney Roger Bedford, who has been working with members of the county’s EMS Committee as well as representatives of Shoals Ambulance, which was awarded the bid to be the county’s ambulance service provider under the new ambulance ordinance.

As of Monday, the contract between Shoals Ambulance and the county commission still remained unsigned as the two groups discussed discrepancies in the ordinance and the contract.

Bedford told commissioners he believed it would be best to start over at this point.

“I hate to have to say it because of all the work that has already gone into this, but I think it’s the best decision,” Bedford said.

The commissioners unanimously agreed.

“We want to do this right, even if it has to take us a little bit longer to get to where we need to be, because we want the citizens of this county to have access to the best care available,” commission chairman Barry Moore said.

“There were apparently some discrepancies between the ordinance and the contract that was awarded to Shoals Ambulance, and we think we need to revisit the ordinance and the contract and get everyone on the same page.”

The commission accepted motions to rescind the ordinance that was adopted in February; to rescind the awarding of the bid to Shoals Ambulance in June; and to give authority to the EMS Committee to re-do the ordinance and set up a pre-bid conference for all interested companies who planned to bid on being the county’s ambulance service provider.

“We believe that having a pre-bid conference with the ambulance providers will eliminate some of these problems and clear up any confusion before the contract is re-bid,” Moore said.

Blake Hargett, the operations manager for Shoals Ambulance, said he just wanted to make sure that the ordinance and the contract they signed matched up.

“We want this to be legal and fair for everyone,” Hargett said.

“The initial ordinance had several issues that didn’t go along with the contract, so I think it’s best that we get some of these concerns cleared up before moving forward.”

Bryan Gibson, CEO of Shoals Ambulance, said his company would monitor the changes that were made to the ordinance and the contract and would go from there.

“Shoals Ambulance has been working closely with Franklin County in developing a contract to provide emergency medical service to the county since our company was selected as the top candidate in June,” Gibson said.

“This is the first time that Franklin County has contracted with one ambulance provider to provide service to the county, with the exception of the town of Phil Campbell.

“During this process, it became clear that some adjustments needed to be made to the ordinance and contract to ensure a relationship between an emergency medical service provider and the county could be long-lasting.

“As Franklin County works through the process of redrafting the ambulance ordinance and rebidding the contract based on the revised ordinance, Shoals Ambulance will continue to monitor progress and review the new request for proposals that results.”

In the mean time, Elzie Malone, CEO of Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service, said his company would continue to provide emergency services to Franklin County.

“We’re going to see what changes are made and will then make a decision at that time if we want to re-bid on the contract,” he said.

Moore said the EMS Committee will have to make changes to the ordinance, hold a pre-bid conference, and then give any interested companies 30 days to submit a bid.

Holding to this timeframe, Moore said the September commission meeting would be the earliest an ambulance provider could be chosen.