County accepts bid following City’s decision

Published 3:00 am Thursday, December 11, 2014

After recessing Monday, the Pike County Commission resumed their meeting to discuss options of for the county’s decision to accept ambulance-company bids Wednesday afternoon.

The County Commission subjectively accepted the bid from Haynes, which will serve as the county’s dictated ambulance company for the next three years

Care, which had been the county’s previous provider since 2005, and Haynes both submitted bids to County, City of Troy and Brundidge officials to allow a collective decision to be made on the bids.

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Within the bids, Haynes outlined its response times as eight minutes for emergency calls within the city limits of Troy; 8 minutes, 59 seconds for all calls within the Troy Fire jurisdiction; 14 minutes for emergency calls inside Troy Police jurisdiction; and 21 minutes for any Pike County areas outside those areas.

For non-emergency calls, Haynes’ response times were 15 minutes inside Troy Fire jurisdiction; 25 minutes inside Troy Police jurisdiction; and 40 minutes for all other areas.

By comparison, Care cited its emergency response times as 10 minutes within Troy Fire jurisdiction, 20 minutes in police jurisdiction; and 30 minutes outside of those areas.

The contract requires the provider to meet those response times on at least 90 percent of calls.

As for patient costs, Haynes said its standard run is $700; Care is $850 for non-invasive treatment, $1,320 for any invasive procedures. Haynes’ mileage is $12 per mile; Care, $15.75.

The bid process also asked both Care and Haynes to detail responses to several significant items outlined by the committee, varying from guaranteed response times to providing information on how charges will be collected from patients.

Chris Dozier, Pike County E911 director, was the contact point for officials and collected specific information from each company to determine which company would be the best fit for the county.

“We could not compare every single charge side by side, because Care didn’t fill out everything we asked for,” Dozier said. “But, we had enough. The majority of the calls are going to be run emergency coming through 911 dispatch, we put a requirement that there had to be a paramedic on the truck that was responding to the emergency call. Some of the things we were asking for were not as big, but we couldn’t do a full comparison at that. So we went with what we have.”

Dozier said price increases and a costly subsidy were two particular items Care was offering that were not as appealing to officials or to him. Care Ambulance sought a sole-provider guarantee from the county or a $394,092 annual subsidy to continue operating. The subsidy cost would be divided among the three partnering government agencies: 40 percent by the Pike County Commission; 40 percent by the Troy City Council; and 20 percent by the Brundidge City Council.

“The biggest thing was the subsidy,” Dozier said. “With a subsidy and you could look at the performance quality in the subsidy, and compare those, but the difference was roughly $32,000 a month for Care and $15,000 for the year for Haynes, which I think it came out roughly above $395,000 for Care for the year. We just couldn’t do that.”

Haynes requested a $500,000 performance bond, and Dozier said officials accepted the amount knowing the bond would act as a sort of insurance for Pike County.

“It’s protection for us that they won’t just up and shut the doors because they basically have to pay that performance bond out to us,” Dozier said. “It’s protection from abandonment. The higher the performance bond, the more incentive there is to stay. That is the same amount that we have had for at least the last three years, and possibly, the last six years from Care.”

Commission Chairman Harris Wright said the decision was not taken lightly by representatives form county or city government. Wright said the Commission had taken the recommendations from Dozier and other emergency responders into account while making the decision.

“We had worked with Haynes years before, and got good service,” Wright said. “At one time we had a little problem with Care, but all that was ironed out. We tried to work with the City of Troy, and the majority of them went for Haynes. By us partnering with the city, we decided we should work with the city on their decision.”

While Haynes sufficiently met most of the county’s qualification, Wright said the Commission was aware of constituents’ concern for response times within the county. Dozier mirrored Wright and citizen’s concern saying the company had agreed to use a mobile-CAD, or Computer Aided Dispatch, and use the E911 maps of the county.

“They did agree to use 911’s map data and have a mobile CAD where Care didn’t,” Dozier said. “That was a big issue because, the thing I’ve heard the most is that they don’t know where they’re going and they have issues getting to certain places in the county. It’s not the responders’ fault necessarily, but it’s just that they don’t have the means to find something quickly in an emergency. That is something we wanted to fix, because we had issues in the past.”