Who will it be?

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Troy City Council on Tuesday became the first government agency to publicly endorse an ambulance service provider for Pike County.

Based on recommendations from the E911 director and fire and police chiefs, the Troy Council recommended the upcoming contract be awarded to Care Ambulance.

However, in a meeting continued from last week just for that purpose, Brundidge Council members did not endorse an ambulance provider for the county but instead gave Mayor Jimmy Ramage and City Manager Britt Thomas authority to sign the necessary agreement after the Pike County Commission meets Friday.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The contract will be with the Pike County Commission,” Ramage said, referring to the ambulance service contract. “As a city, we are a supporter.”

Both Care Ambulance, which holds the current service contract, and Haynes Ambulance, the service provider prior to Care, have bid for the service. All three entities, Troy, Brundidge and the county commission, have to approve the service for the contract to be valid. The Pike County Commission – the first entity to meet after the bids were opened – deferred its decision until Friday, just 12 hours before the current contract expires.

Kirk Barrett, chief operating manager for Haynes, said he is holding on to the hope that the county commission will approve a bid for his company Friday. “The bid was tight. We offered a lot of the same things, and this is far from over,” Barrett said.

Barrett said also he was opposed to the council members not receiving their own copies of the bids and relying on emergency officials for a recommendation.

Prior to its decision, the Troy council met with Fire Chief Thomas Outlaw, Police Chief Anthony Everage and E911 Director Tina Jones to hear their recommendations. “My recommendation is for the contract to be provided to Care,” Jones said. “Both chiefs concur.”

Jones said though the ambulance service has received several complaints in the past, it wasn’t until after the company had been working in Pike County for nearly 18.

“For the first year and a half we had no problem,” Jones said. “When Mike Sandell left, things fell apart … but he said he’s here for the duration.”

As Care operations manager, Sandell said he is pleased to have at least the support of the city of Troy and agrees to follow through on his end.

“I am committed to the continued quality and improvement of the services we provide Pike County,” Sandell said.

Troy has also agreed to sign the contract without local dispatch, meaning all 911 calls will be dispatched through Montgomery like they are now.

Jones said after visiting the dispatch center unannounced on Tuesday, she and Outlaw said they would prefer continuing the way things are.

“I cannot see a benefit in having local dispatch,” Jones said, referring to the service which would cost more than xxx a month with care, xxx a month with Haynes. “I would much rather see that money be put into services for residents.”

Later Tuesday night, after learning that the Troy City Council had voted to endorse Care Ambulance Service, Ramage said that’s probably the way the Brundidge City Council will go.

“I believe that our council members will support that decision,” Ramage said. “Troy has done a lot of research, and we’ve looked over the Care proposal, and it’s a good one. They offer a performance bond and they have presented all three financial statements that are required. The GPS looks to be in place. So, I feel sure that we’ll endorse Care.”

Ramage admitted that there have been some problems with Care’s service recently but said he is confident that those problems will be resolved.

“Care did a good job early on,” he said. “The main concern has been with response time. When you need an ambulance you want it there and it needs to be there. A committee will be established to review complaints to ensure the quality of ambulance service that our residents deserve.”

“Care will do a good job for Pike County. And Haynes has said that they are here to stay so our residents will have an option. And, that will be good.”