Mayors reviewing bids

Published 11:30 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Troy and Brundidge mayors say they haven’t had time to study bids offered by two competing ambulance companies seeking to serve Pike County.

Haynes and Care Ambulance ere the only two companies to bid on the contract. But, no matter which company wins the bid and the right to be the primary ambulance service provider, officials with both Haynes and Care said they will remain in the county.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said area officials will need to determine ahead of time how, or if, residents could request service by the secondary ambulance company when calling 911.

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“I have not studied the bids to the point of making a recommendation, but one thing I’m asking is that in an emergency situation, if an individual calls in as an emergency, that should go to the contract provider,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford said this issue is important to him because the contracted service will have to be staffed with Advanced Life Support service, but there would be nothing to insure another provider would meet these requirements.

“If it’s a non-emergency, then (residents) should have the right to choose,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford said he hasn’t determined which of the companies he will recommend to his council.

He said price will be a factor, as well as determining whether the cities will pay for local dispatching.

For local dispatch service, Haynes will charge $6,250 per month, and Care will charge $8,500. Both companies offered no-charge bids if dispatching remains in Montgomery.

Lunsford said he’s leaving it up to the local fire chief, police chief and the E-911 director to determine if local dispatching would be an asset to Pike County.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said he also isn’t sure who he recommends as the ambulance provider, but he will be looking for a company which will respond quickly and be able to address the needs of rural areas.

“We just hope whoever gets the bid would give prompt attention to the calls and provide good service,” Ramage said.

Ramage said he, like Lunsford, isn’t sure whether an option for local dispatch would be the one he chooses.

“You’d like to think local dispatch would be more effective, but you just have to see what type of system would be in place,” Ramage said.

Officials from Care and Haynes both have differing opinions on whether local dispatching is more beneficial.

Care Ambulance Operations Manger Mike Sandell said having a centralized dispatch would be more beneficial to the county.

“It’s better not to have a local dispatch because a centralized dispatch can do so much more,” Sandell said.

Sandell said with a centralized dispatcher (such as one in Montgomery), someone can easily watch locations of all their vehicles and counties may be able to share resources.

“You are able to see those trucks moving through the area, and sometimes that truck could be closer to that call, and they would be able to move from there and be right on top of that call,” Sandell said.

But Haynes Chief Operating Officer Kirk Barrett said he thinks local dispatch could do more for Pike County.

“From the knowledge and experience we’ve had, local dispatch is far superior and more adequate than centralized dispatch,” Barrett said. “If you have a local dispatch you have people of Pike County who have an internal knowledge of the roads and services working”

Barrett said local dispatch can help paramedics locate and reach homes more quickly than centralized dispatching.

And, Barrett said while Haynes, like Care, have ambulance service in multiple locations, they would not need to use trucks from another area.

“We promised Pike County four trucks, and we’re going to keep those trucks in Pike County,” Barrett said.

Both ambulance bidders said they would provide additional ambulances during peak times.

Sandell said peak times vary, but they are generally considered to be between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

However, he said the calls are evaluated and peak times are adjusted every five weeks.

Barrett said Haynes also will be staffed based on call volume, but if call volume is high enough, all four ambulances would be staffed at all times.