Commissioners eye fire dept.-based EMS

by Sarah Fay Campbell

Coweta County will be taking a closer look at the possibility of bringing emergency medical services under the fire department.

On Tuesday, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners voted to reject alternate bids for emergency medical services, and to negotiate a contract extension with the current provider, American Medical Response.

The contract extension would “allow further analysis to be completed regarding the possibility of implementing fire department based EMS service,” according to County Administrator Michael Fouts.

The contract with AMR expires on July 31.

The county sought new bids for the service, and the two qualified bids came in high – AMR’s bid was three times higher than the original bid in 2011. That 2011 bid won the contract, which had been held by Vital Care EMS for many years.

This time, AMR bid $990,000. In 2011, AMR’s bid was $295,000. Vital Care bid $989,000, up from its original $435,000 bid in 2011.

The bids are for the “supplement” that the county would pay the EMS provider. The county provides the ambulances, and the EMS provider bills patients for its services.

On May 6, the county voted to reject those bids and negotiate with the two bidders.

At that commission meeting, Commissioner Rodney Brooks asked county staff to look at the possibility of moving the EMS service in-house, through the Coweta County Fire Department.

Fouts said Tuesday county staff met with the two bidders to discuss “cost effective measures to reduce the annual subsidy.”

Following those discussions, the companies were asked to bid based on a revised EMS billing formula with the county providing advanced life support equipment.

Those new bids were $499,000 from AMR and $535,000 from Vital Care. AMR reduced its bid by $451,000 for the revised billing formula and $40,000 for the county-provided equipment.

Vital Care reduced its bid by $109,750 for the revised billing formula and $344,250 for the county-provided equipment.

Fouts also asked the commissioners for approval to set up a meeting with Newnan city officials to discuss fire-based EMS. “They could enhance the service through the use of their facilities and potentially their staff,” Fouts said.

The vote was unanimous.

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