Ambulance contract sets accountable standards

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, December 12, 2019

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In the last contract between Haynes Ambulance and Pike County emergency service providers, 911 Director Chris Dozier said the contract was all or nothing.

“There was no middle ground,” Dozier said. “The options were to either keep doing business with the company or stop doing business with the company.”

Dozier said officials came to realize during the last contract, which expires this year, that there needed to be recourse that could be taken within the contract if certain standards are not met, instead of skipping straight to dropping a company.

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So a new bid passed by all parties involved this week will set certain penalties if response time expectations are not met.

Because Haynes answered the bid with a counterproposal, Dozier said those exact penalties are still being decided by the Pike County Emergency Medical Services Committee.

In the original Request for Proposals (RFP), the committee asked ambulance companies to meet a maximum response time on 90 percent of calls.

Kirk Barrett, chief operations officer for Haynes Ambulance, said that request was not something that the company could guarantee because of elements outside of the company’s control such as weather and traffic conditions.

“There is a lot that goes into it,” Barrett said. “An ambulance is a large vehicle and there’s nothing we can do if traffic is congested or if there are hazardous weather conditions. What we want to do is get our ambulance there as fast as we possibly can.”

So instead of committing to 90 percent of calls at a maximum of seven minutes response time, Haynes agreed to meet an average monthly response time.

The response times expected vary by location including City of Troy, City of Brundidge, rural and super-rural.

The committee requested for Haynes to respond within seven minutes within the Troy police limits and Brundidge City Limits 90 percent of the time. Haynes instead offered to respond within an average of 10 minutes in Troy Fire Jurisdiction.

Response time in rural areas was expected to be within 14 minutes 90 percent of the time and Haynes countered to meet a monthly average response time of 15 minutes.

For super-rural areas, the RFP set a maximum response time of 21 minutes on 90 percent of calls. Haynes countered with an average monthly response time of 25 minutes.

The new contract would enact a fine if any response time takes more than 35 minutes.

The penalties originally in the contract were $100 for each response time over the maximum allotted response time, excluding the 10 percent cushion for extenuating circumstances. Because the contract no longer sets maximum response times, that system will have to be tweaked, Dozier said.

Another important standard set in the new contract is the dispatch of ambulance units within two minutes of the initial call.

“That looks small because the fine is only $25 if that isn’t met, but it can add up,” Dozier said. “That’s something we emphasize. When a call comes out, we want that ambulance en route immediately and then everything else can come after. What happened at times was the ambulances were being sent after the whole call was processed, which might take 5 to 15 minutes.”

Barrett explained that the contract between Haynes and the county, Troy and Brundidge jurisdictions does not mean any money is being exchanged.

“The county and cities don’t actually pay for any services,” Barrett said. “The costs are paid by the patient. Lately our ability to collect those costs has decreased while operating costs are increasing.

Haynes Ambulance is proud to be serving the Pike County community, Barrett said.

“We appreciate the partnership we have with the county, the City of Troy and the City of Brundidge and our goal is to provide an ambulance as fast as we can.”