911 Board discusses ambulance service

Published 11:39 am Friday, June 5, 2020

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Members of the Chilton County 911 Board are considering community members to recommend for a committee to develop required specifications needed to bid out for a countywide ambulance provider.

Establishing the committee was discussed during a June 2 meeting of the board.

Recommendations to the committee will likely be submitted to 911 Board Chairman Joseph Parnell for him to appoint the committee. Committee members would meet but be required to come back to the 911 board with a recommendation.

Traditionally, fire departments have had agreements with a local ambulance service for who would be dispatched by 911 to a scene in its service area. Jemison has its own ambulance but has also used local companies on an as needed basis.

With the departure of CARE Ambulance Service from Chilton County at the end of June, RPS would be the only remaining ambulance service.

Parnell said Regional Paramedical Services has agreed to provide service for all departments, including volunteer fire departments, that had previously been with CARE starting July 1.

A memorandum of understanding would have made this agreement official and legally binding.

A vote by the 911 board on June 2 to enter into a memorandum of understanding with RPS to provide temporary countywide service was 3 to 1 in favor. However, Parnell explained that a vote of the 911 board must be in favor by four, the majority of members of the board in order to pass, not simply majority vote of those present. Therefore, the motion failed.

Votes in favor were Parnell, Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver and Sheriff John Shearon. Board member Butch Billingsley, president of the Chilton County Firefighters Association which represents the volunteer stations, voted against.

Board members Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed, Thorsby Mayor Robert Hight and Maplesville Mayor W.C. Hayes were absent.

A meeting with representations from all fire departments in the county and the 911 Board to discuss the situation had been held on a separate day prior to the meeting.

The agreement would have required RPS to offer ambulance service to the entire county, while the board bids out the service. Jemison would have continued to operate its city-owned ambulance.

“We are doing our best to run every call that is given to us,” Kyle McDonnell of RPS said.  “As we have done for the last 20 years.  We just aren’t able to execute an effective plan not knowing day to day what we will be responsible for, but we are trying our best.”

RPS can call on ambulances it has in other areas to respond if available.

The MOU would have given the business specific details on what it would be expected to do.

“Without an MOU there is a chance that some citizens could experience difficulty getting an ambulance,” McDonnell said. “We can only provide service to the level that we know we will be dispatched on. The MOU would give us a more firm foundation from which to develop a plan of action to cover the calls.”

Bidding out the service would take at least six months, according to Parnell.

“I’m concerned right now,” Parnell said. “I never like to be in a situation where health and safety are up in the air.”

A special called meeting is expected to be called in the next few weeks for the issue to be brought up again and to establish the bid specification committee.

“I don’t want this thing to linger,” Parnell said. “I can’t be a part of allowing this to linger.”