Board to oversee ambulance service

Published 8:38 pm Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now that the Pike County Commission has approved the ambulance contract with Care, the next step will be creating an oversight board.

A proposal to create an ambulance board has been on the agenda for several months, but commissioners have tabled the idea since the county ambulance contract was up for renewal in December.

But, since the contract with Care Ambulance, who has been the ambulance provider for the last three years, was renewed Dec. 12, commissioners are expected to take up the ambulance board issue in their January meeting.

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Though specifics are uncertain, the board will serve as an overseer of the ambulance company.

“We were waiting for the bid to be awarded and go in cooperation with that provider,” said County Administrator Harry Sanders. “They’ll basically be overseeing their service.”

Sanders said he, along with County Attorney Allen Jones, were instructed by the commission to look into how other counties utilize ambulance boards.

“We’re in the process of researching the situation finding out what other places are doing so we can make this thing the best it can be,” Sanders said.

Who exactly will serve on the board, when it will meet and what duties it will perform are still up in the air, but what is certain is the commission will have the final say in who is appointed to serve on the board.

Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan said in his opinion, emergency officials should comprise the majority of the board’s members.

“It needs to be people who handle health care emergencies, such as someone from the Troy Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department, the Brundidge Police Department, the ambulance company and other folks that deal with this kind of thing on a daily basis,” Sullivan said.

In addition, he said there should be representation from the county commission on the board.

And, since the cities of Troy and Brundidge had a vote in the county’s ambulance contract, Sullivan said they should also play a part in deciding who will represent them on the board.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said he is hopeful the board will serve the county well once it is started.

“I think it’d be a good thing since someone can meet regularly and keep our chiefs abreast of ambulance service,” Ramage said.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said having an ambulance board is critical for ensuring quality service in Pike County.

“I think it’s critical there be an identifiable source for anyone to deliver their complaints, concerns and accolades,” Lunsford said. “To have health care individuals or public safety officials on board will be very good for the future of ambulance service in Pike County.”

Sullivan said this board is something he believes has never been implemented in the county, but he thinks it will be very beneficial to local residents.

“The purpose is to make sure we’re getting the best service we can get,” Sullivan said.

And while he said he is sure an ambulance board would serve as a voice for residents who have ambulance issues, that won’t be their only role.

“I’m sure we as a commission will still be getting the complaints,” Sullivan said. “As a commissioner, I want to know if anyone has issues with ambulance service.”