It’s time to consider an in-house EMS service

Talk about sticker shock.

We all know prices are going up, but 300 percent in three years is really out there. And we’re not talking oil, natural gas, gold or a new IPO from some new high-tech company.

We wish we were, but that 300 percent figure is what emergency medical service companies are proposing as an increase in their bids to win a two-year contract for Coweta County’s ambulance and medical services.

Vital Care, which had the contract for several years, submitted a bid of $989,000. American Medical Response, which won the contract in 2011, bid $990,000.

Back in 2011, AMR submitted a bid of $295,000 and was awarded the contract after severely undercutting Vital Care. Vital Care had submitted a bid of $435,000, but later reduced that by $100,000.

It’s rather obvious AMR low-balled to win the contract, which is fine because that’s what competition is all about. Taxpayers saved a lot of money with AMR, but now a new contract is up and all bets are off.

During its last meeting, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners basically said “don’t think so” and wisely rejected the bids. They also instructed staff to begin negotiations with the two companies and come up with something more reasonable.

That may or may not work out.

Therefore, commissioners also instructed staff to look at the possibility of moving EMS services in-house. We strongly encourage the county to continue down that path. Coweta already pays for fuel, equipment and ambulances for the EMS provider. This contract is for the supplement, basically the fee for the EMS company to provide services.

As every business owner knows, it boils down to costs. Sometimes it’s cheaper to outsource certain services to other companies that specialize in specific areas. And sometimes, it’s better and more efficient to keep certain services in-house.

However the situation plays out, it will be interesting to see, as County Administrator Michael Fouts said, why the new bids are so much higher. And whatever the outcome, let the foremost decision be based on cost, efficiency and the safety of our residents.

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